Beat the health insurance extras countdown
CHOICE is encouraging Australians to check their extras halth insurance to take advantage of any remaining benefit before 31 December.
“Given that most health insurance benefits tick over on January 1st, it’s a case of use it or lose it when it comes to extras cover,” says CHOICE spokesperson, Nicky Breen. “We know that most people cite extras are one of the main reasons they take out health insurance so if you are paying for extras cover it’s essential you make the most of your money."
CHOICE says the majority of funds, including BUPA, Medibank, HCF and NIB, reset their customers’ extras insurance at the end of each calendar year. “There’s no government incentive for taking out extras insurance so it’s best to think of the cover as a savings account with an expiry date. “If you don’t claim more from your benefits than you pay in premiums, you’re wasting your money.”
Extras insurance pays benefits for health costs including optical, dental, physio, podiatry, chiropractic, massage and counselling. It may also help with the cost for hearing aids, blood glucose monitors or medication that isn’t subsidised, such as travel vaccinations.
“If you’re planning on getting your teeth checked or have been putting off a trip to the phsyio, now could be the best time to go if you have credit left on your yearly limits,” Ms Breen says. “If you need a new pair of glasses you could even double your benefit as some funds allow you to claim for the lenses at the end of one year and the frames at the start of the next. “You can check on your extras cover balance by either calling your insurer or using the fund’s online portal.
“To find out how much value you’re getting out of your extras cover each year, ask your insurer for an annual claims statement. This will tell you how much you paid in premiums versus what you received in return.” For more details on extras insurance see www.choice.com.au/useitorloseit
To find out if you need health insurance for tax purposes go to www.doineedhealthinsurance.com.au
Tips for making the most out of your extras
- Ask your insurer for an annual claims statement. If you are paying more in premiums than you are receiving in benefits you may want to reassess whether you need extras cover at all.
- Remember there is no tax incentive for taking out extras cover.
- Extras cover is effectively a budgeting tool. If you decide you don't need extras cover, it's worth considering setting up a savings account and banking the same amount you would have paid in premiums.
30 November 2018.