People with private health insurance need to be more vigilant when renewing their cover, in order to ensure they are properly covered for core treatments, the Private Hospitals Association (PHA) has said.
It has just launched a new information campaign and guide, Know the ABC of Private Health Cover, which urges people to make sure they have appropriate cover that is relevant to their age and likely future health requirements.
Some 45% of the population - around 2.1 million people - currently has private health insurance. However according to the PHA, an increasing number of patients are discovering too late that their cover falls short of what they need, although it acknowledged that the wide range of policy options can be confusing.
"The guide recognises that in a complicated health insurance market, it can be difficult to understand the complexities of over 220 health plans. While 45% of the population has health insurance, for the patients requiring actual hospital treatment every year, we are seeing increasing numbers facing additional co-payments before being able to undergo the required procedures.
"A lower-priced health policy will of course have its attractions, but it can mean limited or no access to private hospitals, higher cash costs and unnecessary financial pressure down the line for patients and their families at what can already be a stressful time," commented PHA chairman, Michael Cullen,
He noted that people tend not to review their health cover entitlements very often, despite their needs changing as they age.
"For example, older subscribers should prioritise full orthopaedic cover in later years. We have published the ABC guide as a stop-and-think checklist for all private health insurance policy holders prior to renewing or purchasing a policy. The PHA will be promoting increased public awareness on this important issue over the coming months around the country," Mr Cullen said.
The guide highlights a number of key points that people need to be aware of, such as the fact that some plans only cover basic admission to certain hospitals but exclude complex treatments, while other plans may not cover key medical procedures in areas such as cancer, cardiac care and orthopaedics.
Furthermore, some plans require significant sums of money to be paid upfront by the policy holder to the private hospital (a co-payment) before their cover applies.
The PHA emphasised that unlike other types of insurance, using your private health insurance will not result in an increase in premium costs.
The guide can be viewed here
*Pictured at the launch of the campaign are Mary Michael and Natch Jagatheesan