Research from comparethemarket.com.au suggests that half of all private health insurance policy holders are unaware if their insurer has made changes to their policy – an alarming statistic, in light of the recent announcement that premiums will rise by an average 6.18% on April 1.
The insurance comparison website, which features products from 13 health insurance brands, surveyed an independent panel of 1000 Australians with private health insurance to measure how much knowledge Australians really have about their private health insurance policies.
Results showed that while 81% of respondents said they were confident they were covered for major healthcare costs, 50% were unaware if changes had ever been made to their policies, and 39% had allowed their policies to automatically renew each year.
This is concerning, as those Australians that allow their family policies to roll over each year, or don’t have a full understanding of their cover, could be paying up to $1500 a year more than necessary.
The survey also found that nearly half of respondents (48%) didn’t research their current policies before purchasing them. Of these, 27% said they allowed someone else to choose their policies on their behalf, while another 21% just called a well-known insurance brand and let them choose their policy for them. Only 25% of respondents said they had researched their current policies online.
It also appears that as Australians get older, they put more trust into well-known brands. Out of all age groups, respondents aged 55-64 years (31%) and 65 years-plus (37%) were most likely to call upon well-known insurers for their health policies. The results also showed that 18-to-24-year-olds were most likely to have their policies chosen for them, with 58% of this age group selecting this option.
Spokesperson for comparethemarket.com.au, Abigail Koch, says, “Private health insurance premiums are about to skyrocket with the second highest average increase in a decade. It’s not just a hit to the pocket that Australians should be concerned about, quite often when an insurer changes its prices, it also changes its policies. For example, there may be a shift in limits or policy inclusions. We encourage Australians to get a proper understanding of their cover, compare what’s out there and, most importantly, speak to someone about whether their policy directly meets their needs.”
The survey also looked into Australian’s level of interest in other health insurance products. Forty-eight per cent of respondents also said they paid no attention to other health insurance products until it was time to renew their policies.
When asked what main changes respondents would make to their current health insurance policies, 31% opted for an increase in benefit payments for extras services, while 23% chose the introduction of a no-claims discount. This was followed by the ability to claim for GP or specialist services (21%), the removal of sub-limits for individual treatments (20%) and reduced waiting periods (5%).
 An independent survey carried out by Pure Profile on behalf of comparethemarket.com.au. The 1000 respondents were individuals living in Australia with private health insurance. Respondents were an equal ratio of male to female with age groups ranging from 18 years old. Respondents were a representative of the Australian population NSW (303%), VIC (26%), QLD (18%), WA (11%), SA (7%), TAS (2%), ACT (2%), and NT (1%).
 Families with the highest level of health insurance cover could save $130 a month by shopping around for a better deal without forfeiting their level of cover said Shaun Gath, CEO of the Private Health Insurance Administration Council.