Roy Morgan has been measuring the attitudes of health fund members over the years, and unsurprisingly, they’ve found that consumers are getting fed up.
There’s been a big decline over the last four years in the number of people with private health insurance who consider it to be essential. In 2014, nearly two thirds (65.8%) of fund members agreed that ‘it is essential to have private health insurance’. Each year since then it has declined to the current level of 56.9% in August 2018.
That’s just over half of all Australians who are paying for access to private health cover, who are not even really sure they value it.
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I definitely fall into this camp. I’ve had private health insurance for more than 15 years. When I got my first policy back then, it was $90 per month for full coverage for my partner and I as a couple.
A decade and a half later, we’re on mid-level coverage – the kind that doesn’t cover any big ticket items, like knee surgery or pregnancy – and we’re paying $350 per month.
I enquired with my health insurance just this morning actually, to see how much it would cost to increase our insurance to cover some of the more expensive procedures. My husband, approaching his mid-40s, is at that age where some of these issues may become, well, an issue for him in the future!
I was gobsmacked to discover that upping our healthcare to top hospital cover would bump our premium up by another $200 per month, or $2400 per year.
It’s got me scratching my head. Who has a spare $550 per month to pay for health insurance – which, let’s remember, you have to pay to use, as there’s a $500 excess if you want to actually make a hospital claim?
And do we really need to place this much value on health insurance when we live on the Gold Coast, with access to arguably one of the best hospitals in Australia – the $2bn Gold Coast University Hospital?
I truly don’t know whether private health insurance is a must-have or a rort.
What I do know is that my premiums have increased 400% increase in just 15 years. If they keep increasing at this level, it will soon become unaffordable to my family, as we can’t justify an average doubling in premiums every 3.5 years. If only property prices increased at this rate!