How to find the cheapest health insurance plans in Australia

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While it can sometimes feel like a win, cheaper isn’t always better when it comes to private health insurance.

What do cheap health insurance policies cost?

Cheap health insurance policies usually sell themselves off the back of lower premiums, as they are a budget-friendly option for many Aussies. Policies in the Basic or Bronze tiers come with reduced costs, but also a reduced level of cover. The exact price will vary based on several factors like your age, the level of coverage you choose and where you live around the country.

The government’s private health insurance rebate plays a key role here, as it’s a financial perk that aims to make health insurance more affordable for everyday Australians. Your income will determine the amount of rebate you receive, and those with lower incomes get a higher rebate. This rebate offsets part of your health insurance premiums, which in turn lessens your out-of-pocket expenses.

If you’re eligible for a substantial rebate, a policy that seems expensive on the surface might become very affordable. The rebate phases out as your income increases, though, so bear that in mind when working out the ultimate cost of a health insurance policy over your lifetime.

Where can I get cheap hospital cover?

Affordable insurance options aren’t hard to come by, but it’s the fine print that matters most. Most insurers have multiple plans to choose from within all four hospital cover tiers (Gold, Silver, Bronze and Basic), and each will have a different cost and level of cover. Typically, policies in the Basic or Bronze tiers are more budget-friendly, but they only cover essential hospital treatments without the comprehensive inclusions of Gold and Silver plans.

The most efficient way to compare the cheapest health insurance plans in Australia is by using an online comparison tool. It simplifies – and, most importantly, speeds up – the entire process. Simply enter your details, your preferences and your budget and it will generate a list of the most appropriate policies for you.

The best comparison tools will give you clarity around not just the monthly premium costs, but all the features of the policy and how they stack up against other insurers. It’s an easy way to save time and effort while finding the most economical health insurance plan for you.

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What are the minimal inclusions you should look for in a health insurance plan?

If you’re only looking at Basic health policies, you’ll want to make sure they have some bare-minimum inclusions – after all, if you’re paying money for a plan just to avoid the Medicare levy surcharge, no matter how cheap it is, it should still provide some tangible value.

Accident-only policies include cover for accidents, ambulance services and specific hospital care – like rehab, palliative and psychiatric care – in public hospitals. However, these policies have plenty of limitations, such as restrictions on follow-up treatments after initial emergency care.

Public hospital policies allow you to select your preferred doctor for treatment in a public hospital, but they don’t give you a choice over healthcare providers. They also don’t expedite your access to treatment, as you’ll still be subject to public hospital waiting lists. Generally, the treatment received under these policies mirrors that available to public patients under Medicare.

While they can help protect you against unexpected accidents and emergency care, many of the most basic and cheapest policies won’t offer extended coverage or get you immediate access to treatment beyond emergency care.

What will I miss out on if I opt for cheap health cover?

Choosing a cheap health policy means forgoing comprehensive cover and lots of extra benefits available with higher-tier policies. With a budget-friendly plan, certain medical services, treatments and specialised care might be excluded or only have limited cover. Going for a cheaper policy will also result in limitations on elective surgeries, alternative therapies, certain prescription medications, as well as access to a wider network of healthcare providers.

Moreover, advanced treatments like joint replacements, infertility treatments or major dental and optical services aren’t usually covered under low-cost policies. Mental health services, including in-patient psychiatric care and therapies, will also have restricted cover – if any at all.

While cheap health policies will give you some respite in this cost-of-living crisis, you’ll have to be okay with compromising on a decent amount of cover, which could leave you with large gaps in your healthcare benefits. You’ll need to weigh up the cost savings against the potential risks of not having enough health cover before choosing this type of plan.

Top risks and rewards of choosing a cheap health policy

Ultimately, choosing a cheap health policy has its ups and downs. The good part is you save some money on those expensive monthly premiums, which is very helpful on a tight budget. But you’ll also have to accept that not many treatments and services will be covered. That could mean unexpected out-of-pocket expenses when you need medical care.

Risks:

  • Limited cover for many medical services
  • Higher upfront costs for treatments
  • Restricted access to preferred healthcare providers

Rewards:

  • Lower monthly premiums, saving you some bucks
  • All your bare-minimum healthcare needs are covered
  • Financial relief for tight budgets

Is cheap health insurance worth it?

Going for a low-cost health insurance plan might seem like a great way to save money, but the reality is it’s a bit of a mixed bag. On one hand, those lower premiums mean more money in your pocket right now. But they also mean less cover when you need it most.

Cheaper plans often come with limited services and might end up costing you more in the long run. So before jumping on the cheap insurance bandwagon, consider what you might be sacrificing and whether it’s worth the potential extra expenses when you need care.

In the end, it’ll depend on your preferences and your budget, but here are some pros and cons to keep in mind:

  • PRO: Extra cash in your wallet from lower premiums.
  • PRO: Covers essential medical needs for emergencies.
  • PRO: Ideal for those struggling with the rising cost of living.
  • CON: Limited cover and services.
  • CON: Potentially higher out-of-pocket expenses.
  • CON: Little to no choice on your healthcare providers.

Final word

Opting for a budget health insurance plan can be a trade-off. While it saves money upfront, the reduced cover might leave you exposed in times of need. Weigh the risks against the savings before making a decision. Remember, the best health insurance is one that balances cost and cover to suit your needs.

Simon Jones
Written by
Simon has spent more than 15 years covering the technology and finance sectors as both a journalist and content marketer. He is fascinated by the convergence of AI and big data, and spends what little free time he can scrape together either wrangling two kids or expanding his gin collection.

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