Patients ask us ‘what health fund to choose’ every time and unfortunately, there is no easy answer!
There are numerous things to consider, but we’ll run through some of the main things. Please do your own research as well before signing up to anything! Everyone’s position will be different!
Firstly, if you don’t have private health insurance, check with your accountant to see if there are any tax implications involved. There are two kinds of health insurance cover – hospital cover and extras.
Now you need to decide if it is worth for you to get extras with your private hospital cover (if you are getting it). In some cases it may be better to save the amount you spend on extras in a separate savings account and use it for your dental needs instead of claiming on extras. This only works if you end up saving it and not spending it!
Now, how to choose a health fund?
There are numerous health funds available now compared to before. It really pays to do your research and check some of the smaller, not-for-profit (run to benefit members) type funds. These generally tend to pay back more to you as opposed to a for-profit health fund. There are also some restricted health funds e.g. Defense Health, Teachers Health that are only for those in that profession and family members.
Health funds have an annual limit on most items. Dental items fall into Minor and Major Dental. Minor dental may include items such as general cleaning whereas major dental includes crowns and any complex treatment. For example, if you have an annual limit of $500 on Minor Dental, it doesn’t necessary mean that you will get $500 for $500 worth of treatment. This is a common misconception. You will receive a portion of the amount back from private health and your annual limit on money received will be a total of $500.
You would have heard the term ‘Preferred Providers’ by now. These practitioners aren’t chosen by any particular system. The health fund will approve some practices and not others, mainly depending on location and if the health funds itself owns a clinic nearby! It has nothing to do with any actual treatment information or skills or facilities of the practice. So it is a very complicated practice and not always best for the patient.
Lastly, beware of waiting periods and also restrictions on some “pre-existing conditions”! Always best to check these things with the health fund before switching/signing up.
There are comparison websites (google search) to help you with your search, but again, be careful as these websites never display the full range of health funds or products that are on offer!
My last tip – most funds increase prices on April 1st every year. If you can manage to pay for the entire upcoming year in advance, you can pay at the old price! If you ever switch/cancel later, they will refund the money to you (again best to double check this!)