I was thinking the other day about the things in life you have to do but you put off because they seem too hard – or too boring.
Going to the dentist – yeech I hate that!
Making a will.
Paying my electricity bill.
Cleaning out my gutters.
Organising the pantry.
And health insurance.
Just as an FYI, you should know that this post is sponsored by Medibank. But all opinions expressed by the author are 100% authentic and written in their own words.
I am hopeless at health insurance. I have it, but I don’t think I’ve updated my policy for years. I am so incredibly old fashioned I am one of those dinosaurs who actually prints out the claim form and posts them off.
So now the kids are back at school it’s time to get organised.
First up health insurance. After a little bit of research I’ve found out these are the things I should be thinking about.
1. Is this the right product?
We are all busy. But one of the busiest women I have recently met is Amanda Ralph who is head of Private Health Insurance Products at Medibank. With two teenage kids and a full time job she was the one I turned to for some advice. She says it can be a complex decision, but it is an important one to get right.
“There are two elements to health insurance that can be taken out separately or together as a package. The hospital cover in one sense, is something you hope you don’t have to use. If you anticipate going into hospital or you are at a life stage that might require more acute care you need to ensure you are covered for certain procedures.”
“Ancillary cover (or ‘extras’ as it is often called) is a great product that you can make the most of, particularly for your dental and optical needs and if you have active family members who will use physio and the like,” Amanda says.
In order to find the right product Amanda says you can go into retail offices – often found in shopping centres, go online or even give a company like Medibank a call.
And it is a good thing to enquire about the additional benefits that some insurers provide. These may include access to online and mobile health resources, coaching for chronic disease and registered nurses you can call anytime of the day any health questions you might have.
2. What are my family’s needs now?
What kind of family do you have and what are their needs? Do they currently need hospital, optical, physio, orthodontics, major or minor dental or even podiatry?
Amanda suggests your best bet in working through your needs is to put aside some time in your busy schedule to sit down and do the research. She says that like most mums she is really busy and she can see the benefit in finding a product that aligns to your stage of life.
And the other big tip is to think about obstetrics. Amanda says a lot of obstetrics on average will have a 12-month waiting list so getting your health insurance sorted once you’ve fallen pregnant won’t work out – it will be too late.
3. How will my family change?
Consider how to manage the changing needs of your family as they grow older.
Amanda recommends thinking about the stage of life you are at now, and then your future needs. When you are starting a family you obviously have different requirements to one with adult dependents at home.
And it’s pretty important to consider any family history that might impact on your health or may lead to you needing top hospital cover.
4. What kinds of waiting periods do I need to consider?
Amanda says a lot of people worry about changing a product and then having to serve out waiting periods – a length of time you need to wait after taking out your cover before you can claim benefits for services or items covered. Amanda says this only applies when people upgrade their cover but that you should seek clarification from your insurer. She says your health fund can guide you through the best way of upgrading or changing cover.
5. What is your budget?
This is the big one isn’t it? Health insurance is such a significant purchase in your overall household expenses. People need to make decisions about health insurance based on where they can comfortably fit it in to the household budget.
Think about what you need. A young family probably won’t need knee and hip replacements. A woman who has finished her family won’t need obstetrics. Big health insurance companies have some great schemes that actually give back to your budget. Medibank is aligned to “Flybuys” and you get 3 points for your fruit and veg purchases at particular supermarkets. Great to encourage healthy family living.
6. How easy is it to claim?
Amanda was telling me how, for the first time the other day she had to fill in a paper form – as she needed to use an ambulance for one of her children. “It was the first time in 15 years” she said. “It’s just so easy to do an online claim. Sometimes the claim is processed automatically through the HICAPS system (usually for extras services like dental and physio), otherwise there are mobile apps which make it so simple.”
At the end of the year, at tax time, Amanda says you can quickly go into the online member services and get a statement or find out your out-of-pocket expenses.
She’s made me determined to change. Supposedly all this stuff is online these days – who knew? She says it’s seamless.
Seamless, easy – and beneficial. Ok. That’s one thing on my list taken care of.
Now to sort out the pantry.
Depending on your type of cover, here are some things that private health insurance can cover.
What is your biggest question when it comes to health insurance?
That’s why more than 3 million Australians choose Medibank.Find out more visit medibank.com.au/healthcover/
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