Comparethemarket.com.au’s latest research highlights 18-24 year olds are more ignorant than any other age group about the benefits available to them through private health insurance, and are least likely to take advantage of those benefits*.
With accidents likely being the major reason this age group would require hospital cover, the survey by comparethemarket.com.au found that nearly 1 in 3 (28%) of 18-24-year-old respondents do not have hospital cover, compared with 11-19% in other age groups. Further, nearly half of the 18-24 year olds with cover (48%) had not made a claim in two years – the highest of any of age bracket.
Grant Waldeck, spokesperson for comparethemarket.com.au, says, “There are multiple reasons why the results are concerning. Firstly, while young people are considered ‘more healthy’, they can be at greater risk of injury from sporting activities, vehicle accidents and alcohol-related incidents. It’s likely they are failing to match policy benefits to their level of risk and significantly increase their chances of medical bill shock.
“Secondly, young people who opt for cheaper policies with a higher excess may be dissuaded from claiming. The reality is that while a basic policy with high excess can be cheaper in the short run, a hospital visit can hit their pocket hard if they are not adequately insured.”
In addition, with 18-24-year-olds also very likely earning less than $88,000 – making them eligible for the full Australian Government Private Health Insurance Rebate on their tax returns – surprisingly, 56%** of respondents in this age group were unaware of a rebate (compared with 13-37% in other age groups), 76% were unaware it is means tested (compared with 24-34% in other age groups) and 84% were unaware of how the rebate works (compared with 36-51% in other age groups). This is further illustrated by the high level of respondents without hospital cover – who are therefore foregoing a rebate altogether. Eighty-four per cent of 18-24 year old respondents have never changed policies.
“Feedback from our customer service team shows that this age group is also unaware that they can claim the 30% Government Rebate on an extras only policy. Opting for extras only cover provides lower health insurance costs with the benefit of receiving services such as dental and optical for low to no out of pocket expense,” says Grant.
“With an average 6.2 per cent increase in premiums taking place from 1 April, my major concern is that private health insurance costs will increase for an age group that is benefiting the least.”
*Survey of an independent panel of 622 aged 18+ years conducted by Pure Profile. Questions answered online by approximately 40 per cent males, 60 per cent females across all Australian states (80% in NSW, VIC and QLD). Respondents are an equal split of singles without kids, young couples preparing for a family, families with young kids, families with older kids and empty nesters.
**Figures have been rounded to the closest decimal point.