New research suggests 3 in 4 Australians without private health insurance could be freezing themselves out of the private health system for life by having no regard for the accumulative costs of delaying cover.
Commissioned by comparethemarket.com.au, a survey of 1041 Australians without private health insurance[i] revealed nearly half (47%) admitted to not knowing that Lifetime Health Cover (LHC) was a 2% loading on hospital cover for every year they delay health insurance after 31. Even when LHC was explained to them, 3 in 4 (77%) remain unmotivated to take out insurance.
Grant Waldeck, spokesperson at comparethemarket.com.au, says, “As health risks increase with age, older people typically get more value out of private health insurance, yet they are less likely to afford it the longer they delay it. Someone taking out insurance at age 50 would pay an additional 40% on top of their health insurance premiums – this can be as much as an extra $1000 a year for comprehensive cover and extras.
“The irony is that 69% of respondents indicated the reason they don’t already have private health insurance is because it is too expensive.
“If this segment of the population remains in the public health system, they should be concerned about hospital waiting periods. I know of a retiree who has waited for knee replacement surgery for seven years, simply because private health cover is now too expensive for her.”
In the survey, knowledge about LHC diminishes with youth, with 50% of 25–34 year olds and 41% of 35–44 year olds not understanding its repercussions. Some 65% of over-55s understood LHC, yet 94% indicated they would remain in the public health system given the costs of private cover.
“We’re concerned about lack of knowledge and care around delaying cover among the very people it affects the most: non-insurance holders. Hospital cover is as little as $687.50[ii] a year. By taking action now, Australians within a certain age and salary bracket could have peace of mind, shorter hospital waiting periods, and money in their pocket by avoiding the Medicare Levy Surcharge[iii],” added Grant.
“Our research indicates the key reason people don’t have private health cover is an overall lack of knowledge of the private and public systems. We encourage Australians to do their research and work out what is best for their health and financial needs based on their age and salary. This is especially important for those approaching 31 – they don’t want to create a financial rod for their backs now, which will freeze them out of the private health system forever,” said Grant.
[i] Respondents were Australian residents without private health insurance, split fairly equally across gender and age brackets, across all Australian states. Survey conducted by Pure Profile. Questions answered online. Findings rounded to the nearest percentage.
[ii] When selecting to reduce your premium by applying your rebate. This figure is applicable to QLD residents only; basic hospital cover varies between states from $440.29 in NT to $715.80 in TAS and SA.
[iii] The Medicare Levy Surcharge is applied to all taxable incomes over $88,000 for individuals without hospital cover, and taxable incomes over $176,000 for couples without hospital cover. The MLS is means tested, and is up to 1.5% of taxable incomes.