Aussies will start shelling out an additional $134 for health insurance starting April 1 as funds begin to announce premium rate hikes.
The cost-of-living crisis threatens to push private health insurance out of many Aussie household budgets, with recent data from iSelect revealing that one in three Aussies have considered downgrading their health insurance coverage or cancelling it altogether over the past year.
Health insurance premiums are set to shoot up by 2.9% on average starting April 1. This means the average Australian family will have to scrape up an extra $134 per year. For singles, the increase will mean an extra $60.
Among the five major health funds across the country, HBF has announced the highest premium increase – at 4.49% on average, more than one percentage point higher than the average premium increase of 2.9%. Compare Club found that HBF’s increase meant a family on the health fund’s Flex 60 policy would be paying an extra $215 per year, Yahoo Finance reported.
Consumer advocacy group CHOICE also found that HBF was the only major health fund that did not postpone the premium increase. Across Australia, health insurers – including Medibank and ahm – have delayed their premium increases to later in the year. These are the average premium increases of the five major health funds in Australia and their date of implementation according to CHOICE:
Compare Club CEO Andrew Davis pointed out that this was the second year in a row HBF recorded one of the highest average premium increases. “Their customers will be paying an average of 8.11% on premiums,” he was quoted as saying.
Despite the additional cost, experts continued to urge Aussies to compare health insurance options instead of dropping coverage outright.
“You can sometimes save hundreds of dollars on your premium when you switch because you may review your cover and find you don’t need certain things or you may find a fund that has the same level of cover for less,” said author Joel Gibson.
iSelect spokesperson Sophie Ryan added that it is best to shop around before the increases kicked in.
“If your fund has postponed your increase, remember that it’s not a cancellation,” Ryan said. “Your policy will likely still rise at some point this year. Don’t wait to shop around and compare your options to see if you can save some money.”
Health funds also often offered sign-up incentives, weeks of free coverage or cashbacks for new members, Yahoo Finance reported.
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