Tactics for beating private health insurance price hikes

Private health insurance just got more expensive for the average Australians as the largest increase to hit private health customers in 9 years came into effect yesterday. Health insurance premiums are expected to rise by an average 6.2 per cent, which equates to an average price hike of $250 a year.Mozo spokesperson Kirsty Lamont said that many Australians will be feeling the impact of the price hike in their hip pocket and a lot of people will be thinking twice about maintaining their private health insurance, but its important not to panic.

"Don't do a dump and run," she said. "Spend some time shopping around first to see if you can save. You can save hundreds of dollars by shopping around and choosing the best policy for your needs."

With a typical family private health insurance policy now costing around $4000 a year, the price hike has presented a good opportunity for policy holders to take stock and really think about the cover they really need.

"Compare your current policy against other options but don't just choose a policy on premium price alone," Ms Lamont said. "Take a close look at what your covered for and not covered for to determine how much value you'll get out of the policy."

Here are Mozo's top tips to manage health insurance costs.

Don't pay for extras you don't need. Match your policy to your needs not the other way around. If you're young its unlikely you'll need a hip replacement and if you're older you could scrap the need for pregnancy cover.

Take advantage of discounts. Some funds offer discounts of up to 4% for annual or direct debit payments.

Be careful with promotions. Don't switch to a new fund just to get a promotional offer. Always make sure the policy is the best fit for your needs first as choosing the wrong policy could cost you more in the long run.

Ask for a refund on your old policy. If you do decide to switch providers make sure you ask for a refund of any payments you paid in advance.

Don't forget to claim. There is no point paying for premium extras your not using so getting value out of your policy is important. If you aren't claiming, then think about stripping back your cover and putting the money saved into a savings account or towards something you will use.

To compare the cost and coverage of individual hospital and extras insurance head to the Department of Health website, to check out the best savings accounts rates see here.