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Millions of Aussies 29 days away from throwing $810 down the drain

·2-min read
December calendar with blurred trees in background, Sydney Harbour bridge with New Years Eve fireworks.
Australians with health insurance have been urged to check their policies. (Sources: Getty)

Australians with health insurance extras have been urged to check their entitlements before the new year, or risk losing hundreds of dollars in unused benefits.

Consumer advocacy group CHOICE sounded the alarm, noting that because COVID-19 kept large parts of Australia in lockdown, many health insurance members haven’t been making the most of their policies.

“You may have put off a dental check, missed a couple of physio sessions or not picked up some new glasses. For a large family, you could be about to throw thousands of dollars down the drain. Act now before it’s too late,” CHOICE health insurance expert, Uta Mihm, said.

Come 1 January, most health insurance funds including NIB, HCF, Bupa and Medibank will reset their extras benefits.

That means Australians have December to book in for a massage appointment or pick up a new pair of glasses while they have the benefit.

“Too many people still think you have to buy hospital cover and extras for tax purposes. It’s a good time of the year to think about how much you actually use your extras cover, and if you really need it,” Mihm added.

“Extras cover can be worth it, but only if it pays out more than the premiums you are paying for it.

“The average extras cover for a single person is about $810 a year, which is a lot of money if you’re not using it, and remember - you don’t need extras for tax.”

Should I get extras health insurance?

For Australians on the fence, CHOICE suggested health insurance members make a list of their expenses for a year. That would include the amount spent on dental appointments, glasses and other health services normally provided under extras cover, like phy

sio and remedial massage.

Once that’s added up, they have a figure they can compare with health insurance premiums.

If the costs for extras health insurance is more than the total current expenditure, it’s a good sign that they’re better off just paying as they go.

CHOICE also suggested people with hospital and extras cover check whether they could get a better deal by splitting it out, and having one provider cover hospital expenses and another cover extras.

Additionally, CHOICE reminded Australians to take care when taking out policies for a specific procedure, as many have waiting periods before members can make certain claims, like major dental surgery.

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