Health insurers push towards clear and simple policies

Andrew Munro 22 February 2017

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With customers ready to switch, insurers are giving more reasons to stay.

Late-2016 saw an unusually high number of customer complaints about health services, with the majority of them being aimed squarely at health insurance providers. In response many insurers are looking for new ways to retain customers without lowering prices. One of these is a move towards increased transparency and clearer products, and if you ask the buyers this is coming at an important time. In the wake of rising premiums more than a third of Australian health insurance customers are ready to jump ship if a better offer presents itself.

What does clearer health insurance look like?

These changes can be seen in a range of products and providers, both new and old. Many providers are constantly rewriting and updating their product material. Medibank is also trialling a new hospital concierge service to assist vulnerable customers before and after procedures. It's also starting to send out out regular reminders for people to use their health insurance extras, as well as introducing clearer ways to keep track of one's annual limits.

Other insurers are already ahead of the game with extras policies that offer a clear and simple 100% back on key benefits, regardless of cover level. These key benefits typically include preventative treatments like dental checkups, benefiting both the insurer and the customer. Health insurance providers have long realised the value of keeping customers healthy and keeping claims down, and sometimes just giving 100% back for a limited number of checkups per year is well worth the cost.

Other new features to look out for may include:

  • Emergency ambulance cover with both hospital and extras policies.
  • Lists of known providers and whether or not you can expect gap expenses when you visit them.
  • 24/7 online customer service, and contact centres that are open on weekends.

Using the newer, more transparent healthcare system

Australia's healthcare system is complicated, and no amount of transparency or customer service can ever make it truly easy to navigate. The complex web of tax issues surrounding health insurance and Medicare, as well as the interrelation between the public and private systems means there's only so much to be done. At the end of the day, all one can do is understand the A to Z of healthcare themselves and compare health insurance options in detail, much like any other form of insurance.

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