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2.6 million Aussies ditch or downgrade their health insurance as cost of living bites

Image of health insurance card and Australian money.
Millions of Aussies have cancelled or downgraded their health insurance policies as premiums rise. (Source: Getty)

Millions of Aussies have cancelled or lowered their health insurance policies as premiums and the cost of living soar, a new survey found.

A Finder survey of 1,001 respondents revealed that 13 per cent of Australians have ditched or downgraded their policies in the last six months. According to the nationally representative survey, this equates to 2.6 million people across Australia.

For hospital policies, 6 per cent of respondents cancelled their policy, while 7 per cent reduced their level of cover.

For extras policies, 5 per cent of customers cancelled their policy, and 8 per cent lowered their cover.

Premiums to rise

On 1 October, nine health funds are upping their premiums, including GMHBA and Queensland Teachers’ Union Health.

On 1 November, other major providers will follow suit including Medibank, Bupa and nib.

The average price jump this year will be 2.7 per cent – the lowest average annual increase in 21 years – but some policies will increase as much as 5.33 per cent.

Tips to save

"The best advice for Aussies looking to save is the same as always – shop around and see what deals are available in the market, then go with the policy that best suits your needs,” Tim Bennett, health insurance expert at Finder, said.

“There are no downsides to comparing and switching your health cover – you won't need to give up any waiting periods you've already served, as these can be carried over between funds. Plus there's the chance to save some serious cash.”

If you are a young person, you may be able to save by staying on your parents’ policy.

Last June, new rules came into force allowing health funds to increase the age of dependents from 25 to 31 years old. Eligible individuals need to live with their parents to stay on their parents’ policy.

Only a handful of funds have adopted the new rules, but large players like Medibank, Bupa, ahm and HCF have made the change.

Finder analysis found that young Aussies could save $6,647 if they stay on their parents policy after turning 24 until they reach 31.

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