Australians ditching their health insurance

Peter Terlato 16 November 2016

elderly couple ditch crutches throw health

Increased costs are a huge deterrent for policyholders.

New survey results reveal around 1.7 million Australian private health insurance customers are planning to ditch their current policies, with a significant proportion citing hefty premiums as the primary reason for canning their insurer.

A survey of 2,005 Australians, conducted by finder.com.au, found 15% of those surveyed are preparing to cancel their health insurance. Almost half (44.7%) of these individuals said they were rescinding their policies due to towering costs.

More than 14% of respondents said they would abandon their cover because rebates were inadequate, while around one in ten (10.3%) claimed their cover doesn't suit them.

A smaller proportion (6%) said they no longer needed insurance as they felt fit and healthy.

These figures are slightly higher than the latest Roy Morgan Research consumer survey, in which 1 in 10 policyholders indicated they would either leave or consider switching funds in the next 12 months.

Top reasons for Aussies cancelling health cover:

ReasonsProportion
Too expensive44.70%
I don't get enough back in rebates14.20%
Cover doesn't suit me10.30%
I'm already fit and healthy5.80%
I'm not sure what I'm covered for4.80%
I'm under 30 and there are no penalties for not having cover4.80%
The claims process is too complicated3.90%

Australian health insurance policies vary in cost, from $28.55 per month for the cheapest basic hospital cover to $317.45 per month for top cover, according to finder.com.au data.

Private health insurance represents a significant financial commitment for many consumers and changes to the benefits available through these policies can have serious impacts.

For example, heightened costs of medical procedures for patients has resulted in pricier premiums.

Almost half (46.8%) of all Australians are covered for hospital treatment, according to the Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority's (APRA) September quarterly statistics.

APRA's stats also reveal out-of-pocket expenses for hospital treatments ($284.20) declined 1.7% over the last 12 months, however, gap payments for general treatments ($48.01) rose 1.1% over the same period.

In October, we reported complaints to the Private Health Insurance Ombudsman had risen substantially since 2013. Unsurprising, given most Aussies believe private health insurers are motivated by money.

The decline in private health satisfaction is worrying, considering Australia has "reached a crisis point" in public hospital funding. Waiting times are up and bed numbers down.

If you're thinking of taking out private health insurance or switching providers, it's helpful to understand what you're covered for and the best ways to make a successful claim.

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Picture: Shutterstock

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