How a year's worth of extras cover can pay for itself in a week
Believe it or not, it's easy to claim more money back in a week than you'll pay in health cover premiums all year.
Extras health insurance is the little brother to hospital cover. Significantly cheaper, it helps towards the cost of non-hospital healthcare, like dentistry, optical and physiotherapy.
So is it really worth it? Well, yes, as long as you use it.
In fact, extras is actually one of the few types of insurance where you can easily claim back the price of your premium, without anything going too awry. Plus, you can do it in just a few days.
Yes, you might need to stomach a trip to the dentist or commit to an exercise course, but it's pretty easy to guarantee value from your extras policy every year. Here's how it's possible:
The most important thing to do is compare your extras policies carefully to find cover that suits your needs. You might decide you want to spend more money for higher annual limits or just need the basics to help with regular healthcare.
Pay attention to what benefits are included, as well as waiting periods, annual limits and - of course - the price. Mid-range extras policies usually cost around $10-$15 a week.
This article isn't sponsored but, for the sake of an example, I've used ahm's lifestyle extras policy which costs $11.70 a week or $608.40 a year. I'll be using these figures throughout, so you can see how easy it is to make an extras policy work for you.
Monday: Dental check-up
Here's a genuine breakdown of my recent trip to the dentist. It wasn't anything too out of the ordinary, so if you make annual visits to the dentist, you can expect to lodge a similar claim every year.
While my extras insurance didn't cover the full cost, it did cover $187.65. That's almost half of the total bill and the equivalent of 16 weeks' worth of premiums.
|011 - Comprehensive oral exam||$68||$36.70|
|022 - Single x-ray (x2)||$92||$51|
|114 - Removal of calculus||$172||$74.45|
|121 - Tropical application of remineralising or cariostatic agents||$45||$25.50|
Tuesday: Exercise course
Now that gyms are beginning to reopen, it's actually worthwhile to enrol in an exercise course, particularly if lockdown has taken its toll on your fitness. Extras insurance can be a huge help when it comes to the cost.
You'll probably have to get approval from your insurer, which may involve a letter from your doctor or physio confirming you have a genuine need to visit the gym. This could mean anything from managing an injury or health condition, to improving mental wellness or even your BMI.
For a $250 exercise course, I can claim back the full $250. That's 21 weeks' worth of premiums. It's flexible too, so you can claim for things like personal training sessions and kids' swimming lessons.
Wednesday: New glasses
Often, mid-range extras policies have a $200 limit for optical and no waiting period. That means you can buy a policy today and get cashback if you bought new glasses tomorrow.
Major retail opticians are doing their best to make it easy for health fund members too. Many offer new glasses bundles for a similar price as what's covered by popular policies. For example, Specsavers offer two pairs from $149 and Oscar Wylee offers two pairs from $199.
I bought two pairs of new glasses recently, with lens upgrades, for a total cost of $239.00. Immediately, I claimed $200 back from my extras policy. That's 17 weeks' worth of premiums.
Thursday: Therapy or counselling
Lockdown has been tough on lots of us. Whether you're feeling more anxious, want to get a better grip on your anger or your relationship has suffered through isolation, therapy and counselling can help.
With ahm, I can claim $71 off the price of an initial consultation, either in-person or via telehealth. That's the equivalent of six weeks' worth of premiums.
If you have a prescription for a contraceptive, you may be able to claim some of the cost back on your extras. For ahm, that's $50 per prescription, up to an annual limit of $350, but the contraceptive must be prescription only and on a private script.
The average cost of the contraceptive pill in Australia is around $80 for a 3-month supply. I can claim $50 back for that one prescription. That's four weeks' worth of premiums. Repeat the prescription and you can claim again.
Even more value to be had
Using the examples above, that's a total of $758.65 claimed back in just five days. Meanwhile, the annual policy price of ahm's lifestyle extras is just $608.40. Already, you've saved $150.25.
Remember, you haven't even touched half of your benefits or come close to many of the limits, so you still have a further 360 days to get even more value out of your extras policy.
Don't forget, many health funds also offer free coverage for a few weeks if you bundle hospital cover with extras. So it's even easier to get value from your policy.
For any Aussies who turned 31 in the last 12 months, that's a deal definitely worth considering as it means you'll avoid the Lifetime Health Cover Loading penalty that's applied from July 1.