Health insurance price rises for 2023 announced: 2 ways you can beat it
See how much health insurance premiums are increasing this year.
No one wants to pay more for health insurance.
But unfortunately, no matter how fit and healthy you are – you'll still be impacted by the annual rise in premiums.
Federal health minister Mark Butler has approved price rises for 2023. These average 2.9% across every fund in Australia.
The news marks a slight increase on last year's figure of 2.7%. The 2022 rise was the lowest average annual increase since 2001.
Here's how much funds have increased their rates over the past 10 years.
Price rises happen regularly
Each health insurer increases the cost of their cover annually. Typically, prices go up on 1 April.
But in 2022, most Australian funds delayed the increase because of savings made through COVID-19.
Medibank (which includes ahm) only brought into effect its 3.10% premium increase in January this year.
Today, Medibank confirmed it would delay its 2023 increase for 2 months. nib said it wouldn't increase fees until September – the same goes for HCF.
Bupa is delaying its premium increase until 1 July 2023.
How can I get around the price increases?
If you have some extra cash saved, it could be a good idea to pay a year – or more – of your health insurance upfront.
You can do this before a fund brings in its higher rate. Note that this isn't offered by every provider.
HCF lets you lock in for 18 months – the longest on the market.
Meanwhile, nib offers 13 months of advance payments.
Paying upfront "could save you a lot"
Matthew Koce, CEO of Members Health Fund Alliance, told Finder:
"With inflation north of 7%, it makes sense to lock in your health insurance premium for as long as possible.
"So ask if your health fund will let you pay 12 or even 18 months in advance – it could save you a lot of money."
But for Tim Bennett, Finder's health insurance expert, things aren't as clear cut.
"With living costs still soaring, there's a case for paying monthly while keeping any extra cash in a savings account.
"This is attractive while some banks pay more than 4%. But don't forget, savings rates can go down as well as up."
Bennett added: "For consumers who are clear on their wants, savings might be significant enough to make paying upfront worthwhile.
"But it depends on your circumstances."
Hundreds of dollars in savings are possible
One example of how to save by paying upfront is for those planning to have a baby.
The standard waiting period for pregnancy health cover is 12 months.
With nib, by locking in terms for 13 months on its Gold Top Hospital policy, you'd save $207.08 by paying before September's increase (based on nib's rise of 2.72%).
Find better value by switching
With premiums going up, it's a good time to check if your health cover still offers value for money.
If you decide you can get better elsewhere, it's easier to switch funds than you might think.
Your new provider will take care of the process and cancel your old policy for you.
There's a wide gap between what insurers offer in terms of coverage and costs, which is why you should compare regularly.
Price changes come after new Medicare report
The announcement of the annual price increases follows last week's launch of the Strengthening Medicare Taskforce Report.
The report made a number of key recommendations for improving and increasing access to primary care in Australia's health system.
These included the need for funding reform, better data-sharing and improved health IT infrastructure. Some have criticised the report as being light on detail.
Could health insurance cover GP appointments?
Responding to the industry task force's findings, CEO Matthew Koce said legislation blocking health insurers from helping cover the cost of GP appointments was "confusing for consumers" and "out of date".
Koce heads up Members Health Fund Alliance, a group representing the interests of not-for-profit and member-owned health funds.
Koce added: "It makes no sense that health insurance funds can help cover the cost of dental, optical and physio through extras but not a GP appointment.
"One way to support doctors and their patients would be to allow health insurance funds the option of helping cover GP gap fees."