Now that we're looking to add to our family again the topic of taking out family health insurance has come up a lot. The problem is we really have no idea where to start and there are so many policies out there, so I've invited Health Insurance Comparison to guest post to help explain it all.
Family health insurance policies tend to be the most cost effective option if you have children as they include a lot of the services that are of most importance as your kids get older. However, not all family cover is the same and with the premium increases about to come into effect, this is the ideal time to look at your situation and see whether your family’s health insurance is really ticking all of the right boxes for you.
What is Family Cover and What Can It Cover?
In a nutshell, family cover is aimed at couples who have children or are planning to start a family in the near future. It therefore goes a step further than couples cover in also covering newborn babies straight after the birth and it’s also often designed to cover Extras services that the typical family is likely to use such as general and major dental, orthodontics, optical, physiotherapy, chiro, osteo and pharmacy.
Not all Family cover necessarily includes pregnancy and birth services as part of the Hospital component of the policy; with some health funds, you can choose for this to be restricted or completely excluded to keep costs down if you are not planning to have any more children.
Depending on your cover level, the Hospital side of things may include a range of services such as cardiac procedures, rehabilitation, psychiatric services, dialysis, joint replacements, cataract procedures and obesity services. For Extras services, broader cover may include the likes of podiatry, psychology, speech therapy and natural/complementary/alternative therapies.
How Long to Keep Family Cover for?
You might assume that Family cover will be redundant once your children are considered to be adults but some health funds will allow you to keep dependent children on your policy up to 25 years old - as long as they are in full time education until this point.
Once your children have left home or are better placed to buy their own health insurance policy, it can make more sense to switch to Couples cover for yourself and your spouse but exactly when you might look to do this will depend on when your health fund no longer includes dependent children on Family cover.
How to Get More from Your Family Cover
Some health funds include a number of benefits that can help you to get better value for money from Family cover and reduce out-of-pocket costs, including:
- No out-of-pocket expenses for kids on dental services
- Covering dependent children until they’re 25 years old
- No hospital excess for kids
One of the best ways to get more from your health insurance cover is to make sure that it’s right for your current and future health needs and taking steps to change this if you find that there is room for improvement:
Reviewing Your Family Cover
Your family’s health needs are likely to change as your children get older and this can be important if you’re on a budget level of cover that only includes a limited number of Extras services. It’s therefore best to review your family’s health insurance needs at least once a year so that you can make sure that you’re covered for the services that may become important over the coming year. Orthodontics generally has a 12 month waiting period and many other Extras services can have waiting periods of up to 6 months.
Shopping Around for a Better Deal
If you’re not sure whether you’re currently getting good enough value for money from your current health fund, now is a great time to shop around and compare your options before the rate rises kick in. You might find that you can get additional benefits elsewhere or broader cover that better suits your family’s circumstances for the same kind of price. Shopping around doesn’t need to be a daunting or time consuming experience; using a comparison tool such as www.HealthInsuranceComparison.com.au makes it quick and easy to compare a range of health funds.
Focusing on the Most Important Services
Regardless of whether you decide to switch or stay with your current health fund, you can get more from your cover by making sure that it only includes services that you’ll use. On Family cover, pregnancy and birth services are an obvious one to look at once you decide that you don’t want to have any more children. You can then look for Family cover that doesn’t include pregnancy and birth services to cut your premiums. Depending on your health fund, you might just need to change to another level of Family cover or make an effort to shop around for a Family policy that excludes pregnancy and birth services but still includes other services that are important for you. Either way, taking this step can make your policy much more cost effective without affecting any other aspects of your cover.