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How I squeezed over $600 of extra value from my health insurance in just 30 days
And the simple ways you can too.
There’s been a lot of talk about private health insurance in Australia of late. It’s claimed that roughly a quarter million Australians ditched their health insurance over the last year.
However, there are still a staggering 13.58 million Australians with either hospital cover, extras or both.
Let’s break this down with some health insurance basics.
If you choose to take out health insurance (it’s not compulsory), you can either get hospital cover, extras cover or both.
Hospital cover is like a big safety net – it stops you getting penalised come tax time if you earn over $90,000 and provides peace of mind many look for from private health.
Extras is like having a giant coupon book. With a little proactive life admin, you can generally save a decent chunk of change. It’s also pretty cheap, starting at around $3 per week.
Let me start by saying it's not for everyone. There are definitely times when it’s probably not worth it. If you’re in your early 20s or not earning over $90k, you probably won’t benefit from hospital cover.
But what about extras? Whatever age you are, if you have a combined or extras only cover there are a bunch of ways to get some cash back for everyday health needs.
A national survey of more than 2,000 people showed that a potential $4.5 billion worth of health insurance extras are going unused at an average of about $550 per person. So I decided to see how easy it would be to get more dollars back in my pocket within a month (before my limits reset). Turns out it’s pretty easy, and you can do it too:
Step 1 - Check your limits
For a longer time than I care to admit, the main reason I didn’t look too much into my policy was because I forgot my password. I bought it so I didn’t get slammed come tax time, and because I had turned 31.
Queue one embarrassingly easy password reset later and I had access to my policy limits. My dashboard tells me I have $650 left to claim with an extra $200 just for optical. I’d been to the dentist once. I also requested a new card, which meant on-the-spot discounts instead of claiming back on receipts.
Step 2 - Get some specs
I’m a big glasses fan, my prescription hasn’t changed for the last few years (eye tests are free every two to three years on if you hold a Medicare card) so I’ve amassed a decent collection.
However, I have also been driving around for the last three summers (and watching 3D movies) wearing two pairs of glasses. My prescription glasses specs layered with some sunnies. Apparently, this is not the only option for avoiding the sun glare.
I headed on down to Bailey and Nelson at my lunch break and within ten minutes had picked up swanky new prescription sunglasses without handing anything over but my ahm card.
Step 3 - Check your gym membership
Let’s face it, the price of a gym membership in Sydney is a shocker. There are a few ways to save here if you’re willing to sign up for a 12-month commitment. Some health funds even offer 50% off Virgin, Fitness First and Anytime Fitness memberships all year round.
My plan has a limit for $250 related to exercise courses, the perfect contribution towards some new gym kit. All I had to do was ask my doctor for a note explaining I’m trying to keep fit and healthy to keep my health game in check.
Step 4 - Get your kit off
Because it’s massage time! Remedial massage feels like one of life's little luxuries.
Whether you pick a quick half hour, or the full 60-minute works, I’d challenge anyone to not come out the other side feeling better. If you’re a bit stiff from your work desk or just looking for a wind down, it’s worth taking the leap and prioritising some “you” time.
Heaps of places offer a health fund rebate, so I decided it was finally time to get over my fear of embarrassing myself in paper knickers and take the leap. It was super easy to find by searching “hicaps remedial massage”. Half an hour costs $55, I can get $30 back on my health insurance right on the spot.
Savings: $120 over four weeks
Step 5 - Stretch it out
My muscles have been flipping sore this year. I’ve upped my running game and find myself making ouch noises an awful lot. I’ve never been more sore than after I finished my first half marathon a few weeks ago.
Turns out when you sail through 30, your body seems to have a few new aches and pains. Since I took up running, I've been meaning to take care of myself a little better, so this month I took the leap and met with a physio.
I didn’t need to see a doctor first, and the sessions were pretty great for stretching my legs out. The cost per session was $60, and with a swipe of my new favourite card, I claimed $37 for my first session and $30 back for my second.
That’s a final $67 savings.
There's a bunch of other stuff too:
Turns out a month actually goes really quickly. Here are five more tips for getting instant value from your extras:
- Dental. A polish and clean can easily score $200 of value, I just didn't have time for an appointment before writing this.
- Psychology, or counselling. If you’re looking for a one off or several sessions without seeing a doctor first. For an initial consultation, you can go straight there and get $71 taken off with a swipe. (If you are struggling with your mental health, you can visit the doctor and ask about a mental health plan which includes five sessions on Medicare.)
- Smoking (well… stopping). Attend a smoking cessation course and claim cashback, $85 in my case. Nicotine replacement therapy items are also eligible.
- Acupuncture. Used for pain, pregnancy and even weight loss could make you eligible for a discount.
- Finally, the Tax rebate – and it's a biggie. Most Australians can get something back for their health insurance. You can either get an automatic discount each month (around 25-34%) or claim it all back at the end of June.
If you want a place to see extras quotes and limits side by side without having to hand in your phone or email, check out our comparison tool.