Consumer watchdog CHOICE has released the results of its analysis of thousands of health insurance policies from some of Australia’s biggest health funds – and says some “offer terrible value” for customers.
“80% of Australians with health insurance are insured by one of five big health funds – Medibank, Bupa, HBF, HCF and NIB,” said CHOICE health insurance expert, Dean Price.
“However, having a policy with one of these big, well-known funds doesn’t guarantee that you’re getting a good deal on your health insurance,” he said.
CHOICE selected and analysed policies from the five biggest funds they viewed as “are bad value for money” in at least one of the biggest states (NSW, VIC, QLD), or in the state where the large majority of the members of the fund resided.
“There are some really poor value policies on offer at all of the big health funds, and it can often be very difficult to know exactly which ones these are,” said Mr Price.
He said the main problem with many of the poor value health insurance policies was that they provided less cover than a cheaper policy.
So, how did the big five compare?
Medibank Basic Accident and Ambulance
“The Medibank Basic Accident and Ambulance policy only covers you in the event of an accident, along with providing public hospital cover for some services,” said Mr Price
In NSW, the ACT, TAS and WA, this policy costs more than the cheapest Bronze policy, which covers you for essential services in private hospitals like breast and prostate cancer surgery, he said.
Medibank Silver Plus Security
“The Medibank Silver Plus Security policy has restricted or zero cover for some services, such as pregnancy and psychiatric treatment. It is also more expensive in all states than the cheapest Gold policy that completely covers all treatments,” says Price.
Bupa Accident Only
“Our experts found that the Bupa Accident Only policy provides only a basic level of cover, but costs more than the cheapest Bronze policy in NSW, the ACT, SA, TAS and WA. The Bronze policy would provide you with a higher level of cover for less money,” says Price.
Bupa Silver Plus
“The Bupa Silver Plus policy is more expensive in all states except WA and NT than the cheapest Gold policy that fully covers all treatments,” says Price.
HBF Bronze Hospital Plus
“The HBF Bronze Hospital Plus policy doesn’t cover heart surgery, despite the fact that coronary heart disease is the biggest cause of death in Australia. In WA, it’s more expensive than the cheapest Silver policy, which covers heart disease and more,” says Price.
HBF Silver Hospital Plus
“The HBF Silver Hospital Pluspolicy is more expensive than the cheapest Gold policy in all states except SA, TAS and WA. The Gold policy covers all treatments, while the HBF policy has restricted or no cover for some services including pregnancy and psychiatric treatment,” says Price.
HCF Accident Only Basic
“In NSW, ACT and TAS, the HCF Accident Only Basic policy costs more than the cheapest Bronze cover policy. The Bronze policy covers you for essential services in private hospitals, while HCF’s Accident Only Basic only covers you in the event of an accident, and provides public hospital cover for some services,” says Price.
HCF Hospital Silver Plus
“The HCF Hospital Silver Plus policy is more expensive in all states than the cheapest Gold policy which completely covers all treatments,” says Price.
NIB Silver Advantage Hospital Plus
“In all states except SA and WA, NIB’s Silver Advantage Hospital Plus policy is more expensive than the cheapest Gold policy which covers all treatments,” says Price.