One of the more difficult parts of deciding what sort of health insurance is right for you is trying to figure out which ancillary benefits, or “extras”, are appropriate for your lifestyle and health needs. Like a cable TV subscription, your extras will often come in bundles, but some companies offer more flexibility of choice. Sometimes it might be more cost-effective to go for standard extras, but it’s certainly worth your time to think about the sorts of things that you’re likely to call upon now, and what you might need to think about for the near future. By examining your level of activity, the health of your musculoskeletal system, your eyes, your teeth, the implications of any chronic condition you may have, and your age and relationship status, you can begin to run some maths on the costs and benefits of the available packages.
Starting with your life stage is a terrific way to examine what extras are best for you, and we can draw on the experience of others in your situation who participated in our National Survey on these very questions. Young people without children may have quite an active lifestyle, limited income and no-one but themselves to take care of. They don’t like financial surprises that require them to pay out for a sports injury or a new pair of glasses. Young singles in general tend to choose General Dental, Optical and Physiotherapy. Since these extras are the ones claimed most across this life stage, they are well chosen. Also popular for this group are Chiropractic, Major Dental and Remedial Massage.
Young Couples without Children
Young couples are just a step beyond our singles, with the only addition being that they consider the needs of two lifestyles, not just one. They may think of things like obstetrics and higher hospital cover if they plan to have a family, but our National Survey indicated these couples knew what was useful to them as a single person, and stuck to a similar set of extras. The most popular extras were still General Dental at 90%, Optical (69%), Chiropractic (56%) and Physiotherapy (46%). The best way to figure out what you might need as a couple is to sit down together and have a discussion about your individual health needs. Of course, you could each sign up to different policies, but there are benefits for those planning to start a family to join as a couple.
Families with Young Children
If you’ve already begun your family, you may have a fair idea that dental is the major health expense for growing mouths. The National Health survey indicated that families with young kids favoured General Dental at 93%, almost as much as the oldest group in the survey. Major Dental was next (72%), followed by Optical (72%) and Chiropractic (48%). Sometimes it’s useful to exclude things you’re very unlikely to use at this stage of your life. Orthotics and Prostheses are perhaps the best examples of extras cover that you won’t claim for at this stage of your life, unless you like to be really, really prepared.
Families with Older Children
As children blossom through their teenage years and begin forming their own interests and inclinations, their parents’ health needs also change. This is a period when private hospital cover really begins to be utilised, with 42% of couples with older children claiming under this category. Extras coverage in general during this stage of life really seems to pay for itself when you look at what is being claimed: 72% are claiming General Dental and over half claim against their Optical cover. 70% of families with older children are covered for Chiropractic, and we have a new addition with Podiatry (57%). Have a think about the lifestyle and health of your family. Are you active? Do most of you play sports or go jogging? Does anyone need glasses or contact lenses? As you answer these questions, you can begin to tailor your coverage to really get the most out of it.
When the kids have all left home, you’ve come full circle in a way. You still adore your children, and the parental bond is strong, but when it comes to the health of your family you’re back to considering just the two of you. You are officially Empty Nesters. Even at this stage, General Dental is still the most popular extra taken out, with 98% considering their dental health a priority, followed by Optical at 90% and Chiropractic and Physiotherapy on equal footing at 68%. It’s time to think about what the next phases of your life will mean for your healthcare needs, with the possible onset of age-related conditions meaning you may require a different set of priorities in your health insurance that those you previously had.
It’s important to remember that some policies may automatically include extras you might not need as part of their extras bundles. But just because you don’t need some of these things now, it doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t call on them in the future – a sports injury or a sudden dental problem may arise and you’ll find yourself claiming against remedial massage or major dental, relieved that your financial burden is shared. Opt for the package that best reflects you, your family, and your lifestyle. Explore your options by comparing health insurance providers and get the best possible deal for you and your loved ones.