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There will likely be several major cost changes to health insurance policies in 2016. Unfortunately, these changes are unlikely to be kind to your wallet. We take a look at ways you can avoid the sting.

Healthcare in Australia, for all intents and purposes, is reasonably priced. Medicare ensures we have access to healthcare no matter what, and private health insurance covers other costs that are close to our heart, such as obstetrics, physiotherapy, and dental.

But prices are set to go up this year, and the earlier you wrap your head around the changes, which we will detail below, the sooner you can take steps to save money.

What will shake up health insurance prices in 2016?

The private health insurance rebate is a contribution that the government makes towards the cost of your private health insurance. For the average Australian under 65 years of age, earning less than $90,000 per year, it’s presently calculated at 27.82%, according to privatehealth.gov.au. Given it is annually adjusted/reviewed, the rebate may decrease in 2016, possibly by 1-2% (as it did in 2014).

Additionally, a health insurance premium rate rise would mean an increase to monthly premiums for Australians everywhere. The average increase over a five year period (since 2011) is a 5.72% increase.

You shouldn’t settle for a more expensive bill though! You can’t avoid these changes, but there are number of things you can do to cut costs.

Increase your excess on hospital cover

Your excess is the one-off price you pay to your insurer when you claim on your policy. Did you know, however, that many insurers allow you to increase the excess you pay? By doing so you’ll actually reduce your monthly premium.

Of course, those savings may be cancelled out if you need to claim. Our advice is reduce the chances of ending up in hospital the old fashioned way – by exercising regularly and eating well.

Audit your existing policy and remove services you don’t need

Many of us are busy, which means that when it’s time to review our insurance policies, many of us are happy to stick with the cover we have. Circumstances change all the time, however, and you may not need much of what your policy offers in the future.

Ask your insurance provider for a ‘claims statement’ at the end of your policy, so you can more easily reconcile claims received against payments made. Once you know what you actually used, review your options – look for a policy that covers you for what you need, and nothing more.

Get better value from your extras

The amount you can claim back on extras differs from fund to fund – make sure your policy pays on the treatments and services you actually need. Perhaps one health fund offers a greater allowance when it comes to claiming on optical, and the savings per year make it a more appropriate product for you. It’s nice to have a few bonuses when signing up to a policy, but be realistic.

If you feel you could get better value from a different provider, using our private health insurance comparison tool is a great place to start looking at the market to see what’s available to suit your lifestyle, health needs and budget.

Author comparethemarket.com.au

Launched in September of 2012, Comparethemarket.com.au – operated by Compare the Market Pty Ltd (CTM) – has teamed up with a range of Australia’s insurance providers so you can compare some of the latest deals, in one place, side-by-side. The team behind comparethemarket.com.au have experience in insurance, comparison, customer service and digital. If this was a stuffy corporate monologue, we’d tell you that we’re a bunch of subject matter experts specialising in User Experience, Customer Insights & Online Strategies. But to be honest, it’s just as accurate (and a whole lot easier) to say that we’re a bunch of people who want to make your experience with online comparison better. We pride ourselves on the fact that we’re forward-thinking, that we share an entrepreneurial spirit, and the fact that we like to have a bit of a laugh too. We’re all a bit too addicted to chocolate, but no one’s perfect, really.

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