New data has revealed that more than 2 in 3 Aussies regret not taking out private health insurance earlier, now that they are locked into Lifetime Health Cover (LHC) for a decade.
The survey of a nationally representative sample of 1200 Australian adults was commissioned by leading health insurance comparison service comparethemarket.com.au and conducted by an independent research agency[i].
Results of the survey found that 2 in 3 Australians (69%) who were liable to pay the LHC wished they had purchased health insurance earlier in life to avoid paying a Lifetime Health Cover (LHC) loading now. Regrets were especially high among respondents under 35 years of age, with almost all (91%) wishing they had purchased health insurance before the loading fee was activated.
The LHC initiative places a two per cent loading fee on premiums for every year a person delays taking out health insurance after turning 31 years of age. It was introduced to encourage Australians to take out private hospital cover earlier in life and penalise those who fail to do so.
Abigail Koch, spokesperson from comparethemarket.com.au says: “LHC is unlike other Government initiatives such as the Medicare Levy Surcharge, which is based on how much you earn. Many Australians are failing to make the necessary enquiries and investigations to better understand it and don’t realise the full repercussions until it’s too late.”
“It’s disheartening that so many Australians don’t know what they’re paying for as part of their health insurance payments. In fact, the survey reveals over half of Aussies didn’t know what LHC really means.”
“Many Australians don’t factor in this loading when reviewing policy costs because the loading is on top of the standard cost of insurance and is not always factored in automatically when searching for a quick quote online. Health insurance suddenly becomes more expensive for those realising they’re up for additional costs like an LHC loading,” says Abigail.
Comparethemarket.com.au’s tips for understanding LHC loading:
- How LHC loading is calculated. An automatic two per cent loading fee is charged on premiums for every year you don’t have health insurance after turning 31. The maximum loading you can end up paying is 70 per cent.
- Deadlines to avoid the penalty. The deadline to avoid paying the LHC penalty is the first of July following your 31st Before then, you can lock in the lowest base rate premium for as long as you hold private hospital cover.
- Switching policies or funds. If you decide to switch your health insurance policy or change providers, you will not have to start fresh when it comes to LHC.
- Completing LHC payments. You cease paying any LHC loading you accrued after you’ve held 10 years of continuous hospital cover.
- Exemptions from LHC. If you are overseas at the time of the July 1 deadline after your 31st birthday and take out cover within 12 months of your return, you will not be penalised. Likewise if you are a new migrant aged 31 or over and take out cover within 12 months. Members of the Australian Defence Forces or Department of Veteran Affairs Gold Card Holders are exempt, as are those born on or before 1 July 1934.
- Loadings on joint policies. If you have a joint policy with your partner but you’ve both been without cover for different lengths of time, the LHC loading calculation will be averaged out between the two of you. For example, if you have a 20 per cent loading and your partner has a 10 per cent loading, your policy will then have a 15 per cent loading.
Comparethemarket.com.au is a comparison website that makes it easier and quicker for Australians to compare and buy products and services they rely on in their everyday lives. Whether you’re looking for a good deal on your car insurance, health cover for you and your family, the lowest fuel prices in your area, or an energy provider that suits your needs, then go to comparethemarket.com.au. It’s a completely free service and enables Australians to make purchasing decisions with greater knowledge, confidence and savings.
[i] A Pure Profile survey