With the release of the latest Federal Budget, Aussies have much to worry about regarding their their rising cost of living. We’re tightening our purse strings, stretching out our grocery shops, running around switching lights off and making our lunches religiously instead of eating out.
Following last Tuesday night’s Federal Budget, Australians are more worried than ever about mounting household bills.
New Galaxy research commissioned by iSelect shows that 2 in 3 taxpayers do not support a compulsory $7 co-payment for visits to the GP, x-rays and blood tests.
The co-payment is just one of the measures announced in the Federal Budget that has the potential to stretch household finances. If you’re smart about it however, there are strategies you can use to help offset the Budget increases – particularly when it comes to keeping your family healthy.
Matthew Cuming, spokesperson for comparison website iSelect says that while we may not be able to avoid a co-payment, there are some real savings to be had when it comes to private health insurance.
“We analysed the top ten health insurers and discovered significant differences in premiums. When we compared top hospital cover for the ten largest private health insurers, the potential savings were startling. Simply by comparing and switching to an equivalent level of hospital cover, consumers may be able to save from $267 up to a whopping $848 per annum. Just by doing a little research,” he said.
There is timeliness to his message about shopping around: you need to sort out your private health insurance by June 30 to avoid a number of taxes. Cuming also says that if you take out your private health insurance through iSelect, their Price Promise gives you confidence when you purchase.
“If you come across a cheaper premium after buying an identical health insurance policy through iSelect, we’ll give you a gift card for 200% of the difference. It doesn’t get much better than that,” he said.
iSelect have kindly sent me their top five tips to maintaining healthy private cover
1. Shop around
Among the 38 health funds in Australia, and the hundreds of policies they offer, there’s bound to be one better suited to your needs and budget. iSelect research has also shown an average 40 per cent price difference in equivalent levels of top hospital benefit, depending upon the fund.
2. Review and customise your policy to meet your current life stage
Do you swipe your card at the physio all year ‘round, or do you have children that need regular dental check-ups? Maybe your kids have left home and you no longer need pregnancy cover, but hip and knee replacement is on the cards. Whatever your stage of life, it’s important to regularly review your policy and ensure you’re covered for what you need and what you use.
3. Avoid unnecessary taxes and penalties
If you earn above a certain amount each year and don’t have private hospital cover, the tax department could hit you with the Medicare Levy Surcharge (MLS) – which can be up to 1.5% of your taxable income.
4. Co-payments and excesses – a good idea?
If you’re otherwise healthy and unlikely to be admitted to hospital during the year, then opting for a co-payment or higher excess can make good financial sense.
*Important, if you’re single and opt for an excess greater than $500 (or greater than $1000 for couples and families) you may sacrifice your ability to avoid paying the Medicare Levy Surcharge.
5. Don’t be afraid to switch funds
Many people still incorrectly believe that they will be penalised by switching to a new health fund or policy. The good news is that your right to switch is now protected by law and the new fund is required to honour any hospital policy waiting periods you’ve already served. Some funds also extend this guarantee to extras cover as well, so it’s well worth checking to see.
To compare and save visit iselect.com.au