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Health insurance hikes: 5 steps to save $448

Bupa and NIB are among the private health insurers hiking premiums on October 1.

Bupa, NIB and Australian money. Health insurance premiums.
Millions of Aussies will be hit with a health insurance premium hike this weekend. (Source: Getty)

Millions of Aussies will be hit with a cost hike this weekend, as some of the country’s biggest health insurance providers raise their premiums, but there are ways you can minimise the pain.

From October 1, Bupa, NIB, GMHBA, Frank and Defence Health will put up their premiums for customers.

The average premium increase is 2.90 per cent this year - around an extra $134 for families and $60 for singles - but some Aussies may fork out as much as $170 extra a year.

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Aussies are being urged to act now and see if they can switch their health insurance plan or provider and save.

“If your fund is increasing prices on October 1, you’ve got no time to waste. Get on the front foot now and see if you can find a better deal,” iSelect spokesperson Sophie Ryan told Yahoo Finance.

According to the company's research, most policyholders who have switched their health insurance have either saved money or found better value.

Three-quarters have saved at least $100 a year, while two in five have saved at least $500 a year. On average, policyholders are saving $448.80 a year.

5 ways to save on health insurance

Here are five ways to beat the price hikes and save on your health insurance.

1. Check your policy

Make sure you regularly review your policy, Ryan says, to ensure it suits both your needs and budget. This is particularly important if your circumstances or life stage have changed.

“Not regularly reviewing your policy means you could be paying for things you don’t need or you may not be covered for things you do need. For example, retirees still paying for pregnancy, young people covered for cataracts in situations where it is not needed, or families without orthodontics cover when teenagers need braces,” Ryan said.

2. Increase your excess

“Generally, the higher the excess or co-payment you are willing to pay, the lower the premium. If you think it’s unlikely you’ll be admitted to hospital in the near future, you could opt for a higher excess on eligible policies in exchange for lower overall premiums,” Ryan said.

Increasing your excess to the maximum amount can bring your premium down by a couple of hundred dollars, but you’ll need to be prepared to pay this amount upfront if you need to claim.

3. Review your extras

Carefully review your extras too. This includes services like dental, optical, physiotherapy, orthodontic and chiropractic.

“If you aren’t using them, why pay for them? There is a wide variation between funds on what services are offered and what you’ll get back as rebates under extras cover,” Ryan said.

“You could consider flexible products that combine your separate extras limits into a single annual limit for you to use across different services.”

4. Take advantage of freebies

Health funds often offer freebies and deals for new customers to help sweeten the deal.

“With many health funds currently offering cash back, weeks free, waiving waiting periods for some extras and other incentives to attract new customers, now is a great time to shop around and find a better deal,” Ryan said.

5. Shop around

Lastly, make sure you shop around and compare your options.

“Remember, there is no limit to how often you can compare or switch your health insurance policy or provider, and any hospital waiting periods you have already served are protected by law as long as you switch to an equal or lower level of cover,” Ryan said.

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