Australians could be sitting on hundreds of dollars of health insurance benefits that are set to expire, with just weeks left to claim before it is too late.
Many health insurers such as HCF, HIF, NIB, Bupa, Qantas and Westfund reset their extras on January 1, meaning customers have just weeks left to cash in on their existing benefits or it’s “money down the drain”.
Compare the Market is encouraging Australians to recoup cash from their health insurer by claiming the total amount they’re entitled to for extras such as dental, optical, physiotherapy and chiropractic.
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“We know that the industry-wide increase to premiums was 2.9 per cent on average this year, and the last thing we want to see is people paying for cover they’re not using,” head of health insurance Lana Hambilton said.
“So, if you’ve been delaying that visit to the dentist, you’re overdue for your optical appointment or you’ve pushed back a visit with a physiotherapist, time may be running out to maximise your policy’s benefits this year.”
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It comes as a recent Compare the Market survey found one in five Australians are not seeking treatment for health issues over a fear of high medical bills.
The average extras cover for a single person costs about $865 a year without the health insurance rebate, according to CHOICE.
Meanwhile, CHOICE reports the typical limit customers can claim in a year for extras is about $700 for general dental, $250 for optical, $500 for physiotherapy and $450 for chiropractic.
Hambilton said all extras policies have limits on how much someone can claim back each year for each type of treatment.
“The amount you’re entitled to varies based on the treatment or service you’re receiving and the maximum limit your health fund provides,” Hambilton said.
“Your health insurer may cover a percentage of the cost associated with the treatment or a fixed dollar value and may be subject to an annual dollar limit per policy.”
With cost-of-living expenses mounting, Hambilton encouraged consumers to check their policies were the best value for money for their situation.
“Typically, higher levels of extras cover boast higher payable benefits for a broader range of services,” she said.
“However, if you’ve got to the end of 2023 and haven’t claimed as much or for as wide a range of services as you thought you would, you may wish to move to a lower level of cover.”
Her advice was to switch rather than ditch the policy by cutting back on unused extras, understanding the limits and checking the waiting periods that apply.