Get the best bang for your buck with health insurance


What do you pay for health insurance? Rates vary according to whether you are single or a couple or a family but also for what state you live in.

Canstar, which looks at the price and features of 628 health insurance products from 24 insurers, found that the average cost of a combined hospital and general package for young singles can range from $1313 in the Northern Territory to $1866 a year in Victoria (often the most expensive state for health insurance). Established couples can pay $3004 in the Northern Territory to $4156 in Victoria. Mature couples can pay from $3265 to $4387.

"From our data, approximately three-quarters (74%) of visitors to the Canstar health insurance tables are looking for a hospital and extras package, with around 15% looking for hospital-only cover and the remainder looking for extras only," says Mitchell Watson, Canstar group manager, research and ratings.

Canstar has more than 70,000 people who searched for specific health insurance policies on the Canstar website over the past 12 months.

"Not all visitors look for health insurance policies with specific inclusions, but of those that do the most sought for hospital inclusions are cardiac, joint replacement, colonoscopy and specifically knee reconstruction. Smaller numbers of visitors look even more specifically for inclusions such as in-vitro fertilisation and gastric banding," says Watson.

When it comes to extras the popular inclusions are the expected ones; general and major dental, physiotherapy and chiropractic. Massage is also specifically looked for by 8% of visitors says Watson.

Around 50% have private health insurance hospital cover, with more than 55% having extras cover, according to Canstar. There are plenty of different "sign up now" offers and promotions for new members that include free fitness recording devices, vouchers for sports shoes, cash cards, gift cards, free health insurance for one month and waiving waiting periods.

Canstar says that people shouldn't sign up just for the freebie. If you're shopping for health insurance it is vitally important to ensure that you choose a hospital and extras cover that is right for your own needs.

"After all, while a gift card or a month of free cover sounds great, it's a small token in terms of the overall cost of health cover," says Canstar.

Canstar's winning national health insurers with outstanding value are Bupa, HCF and Medibank.

2016 Health Insurance Premiums - Hospital and Extras Packages.
Young Singles $1,818 $1,313 $1,831 $1,758 $1,792 $1,866 $1,737
Young Couples - Non Obstetrics $3,673 $2,689 $3,699 $3,573 $3,618 $3,779 $3,479
Young Single Parents - Non Obstetrics $3,340 $2,502 $3,312 $3,179 $3,278 $3,384 $3,358
Young Family - Non Obstetrics $3,813 $2,871 $3,874 $3,739 $3,780 $3,962 $3,700
Couples and Families - With Obstetrics $4,318 $3,271 $4,450 $4,235 $4,277 $4,480 $4,011
Established Singles $192 $1,479 $2,048 $1,960 $1,998 $2,063 $1,970
Established Couples $4,000 $3,004 $4,108 $3,944 $4,006 $4,156 $3,921
Established Single Parent $3,513 $2,657 $3,553 $3,369 $3,476 $3,600 $3,554
Established Families $3,984 $3,034 $4,127 $3,924 $3,961 $4,173 $3,905
Mature Singles $2,128 $1,601 $2,174 $2,137 $2,159 $2,176 $2,169
Mature Couples $4,278 $3,265 $4,374 $4,307 $4,338 $4,387 $4,338

Source: Canstar


Susan has been a finance journalist for more than 30 years, beginning at the Australian Financial Review before moving to the Sydney Morning Herald. She edited a superannuation magazine, Superfunds, for the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia, and writes regularly on superannuation and managed funds. She's also author of the best-selling book Women and Money.
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