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Health insurance membership hits record high

Posted: 18 May 2018 7:29 am
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But as the number of those with extras cover rises, the number with hospital cover falls.

The number of Australians with private health insurance has hit a record high, according to peak industry body Private Healthcare Australia. This comes in response to a recent report from Roy Morgan, which claimed that roughly a quarter million Australians ditched their health insurance over the last year.

“This assessment is far from the truth. In fact, more Australians than ever currently hold PHI,” said Private Healthcare Australia CEO Dr Rachel David in a statement. The release also said that "an extra 50,000 Australians have taken out health cover in the 12 months ending March 2018. There is now a record 13.58 million Australians with either hospital cover, extras or both."

While the overall number is a record, that doesn't mean Australians are taking out coverage at record levels. According to the latest quarterly private health insurance statistics for March 2018, 13.58 million Aussies do indeed have either hospital, extras or combined cover. This is up from 13.52 million at the same time last year and is the highest amount of Aussies to hold cover at one time. However, when you look at the percentage of Aussies with cover, that figure has actually dropped from 55.2% in March 2017 to 54.6% in March 2018.

When you specifically look at hospital cover, which incidentally is the important one come end of financial year and the costlier of the two policy types, the shift in those dropping cover is more apparent, with the number of people having cover in March 2017 falling from 11.35 million (46.3%) to 11.31 million (45.5%) in March 2018.

The recent trend of people dumping their private health insurance has been blamed on a range of factors including rising costs. It's hoped that the health insurance reforms will help to curb these increases and provide the industry with some stability.

What can you do to reduce the cost of your private health insurance?

If you're thinking about ditching your health insurance because it's become too expensive, there are ways that you can reduce your overall spend:

  • Review your policy. As you get older your needs change and a policy that was right for you 10 years ago may not be the one for you any more. Be sure to check to see if there is any excess fat you can trim from your policy.
  • Payment discounts. There are health funds out there that offer discounted cover to members who either pay via direct debit or make lump sum payments. These discounts can be up to 4% of your premiums.
  • Shop around. If you've been with the same health fund for a while, it doesn't hurt to shop around and compare your options. If you find a better deal, great! If you don't, get in touch with your health fund and see if they're willing to offer you something to stay. Often health funds have retention agents that have access to discretionary offers to entice members to stay.

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