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Rethink Your Cover: Pros and Cons of Switching Private Health Insurance

Switching private health insurance providers can be a strategic move to align your health coverage more closely with your requirements and financial goals. Whether you’re seeking better value, more comprehensive coverage, or cost savings, considering a switch could lead to significant benefits. This guide aims to walk you through the key considerations involved in making a change, offering a step-by-step approach to effectively evaluate the pros and cons.

Megan Fraser

Fact Checked

Updated: 20 May 2024

However, weighing these potential advantages against the downsides is crucial, such as losing loyalty benefits or access to specific provider networks you’ve come to rely on. Making an informed decision about switching requires carefully assessing the opportunities for improvement and the risks of disrupting your current healthcare arrangements.

Key facts

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Why Consider Switching?

Switching private health insurance providers can be a significant decision, influenced by various factors that promise improvements in healthcare coverage and potential savings. People might consider changing their insurance for reasons such as enticing new member discounts, more tailored coverage options that better suit their healthcare requirements or dissatisfaction with their current provider’s service. 

Key considerations include the risk of losing loyalty benefits accrued over time with your current insurer and the possibility of facing a more limited provider network that could restrict your choice of doctors and healthcare facilities.

Pros and Cons

Mining industry occupations
Average monthly premium
Geologist (office work only)
$29.93
Geologist (field work more than 10%)
$51.47
Engineer (above ground only)
$32.38
Engineer (underground work)
$60.70
Explosives handler (surface)
$97.49
Driver/operator (surface, with explosives)
$121.32
Explosives handler (underground)
$175.32

Life Insurance Direct Comparison Engine (December 2023; Premium estimates for $200,000 of death cover for a 55-year-old non-smoking male and female who works as a school teacher and lives in NSW)

Key Moments to Buy Life Cover

Switching private health insurance providers can be a significant decision influenced by various factors, from financial incentives to coverage requirements. Here’s how you can prepare effectively for a potential switch and ensure that your new plan aligns with your current and future healthcare requirements.

Preparing for a switch in health insurance requires careful consideration of your current satisfaction with your policy, the potential benefits of new offers on the market, and how well different plans might serve you in the future. These steps ensure you make an informed decision that benefits your health and wallet.

Best Time to Switch

When considering a switch in private health insurance, timing can significantly impact the benefits you receive.

March
This month is often ripe with promotional offers as insurers compete to attract new members before the end of the financial year. Switching in March can allow you to capitalise on sign-up bonuses, discounted rates, or additional coverage perks that insurers offer to attract customers.
June
Switching before the end of June is crucial for avoiding the impact of premium increases that typically occur on April 1st each year. Securing a new policy before this date can lock in a more favourable rate for the coming year. Additionally, June is significant for those concerned about the Lifetime Health Cover (LHC) loading, as making a switch before turning 31 or within your LHC loading window can help avoid or minimise the cost implications associated with LHC.

Switching Steps

By carefully following these steps, you can ensure a seamless transition to your new health insurance provider. Switching policies can offer significant benefits, but managing the process attentively is crucial to maintaining continuous and effective health coverage.

Switching from Private Health Insurance to Medicare

Transitioning from private health insurance to Medicare is a significant change that individuals may consider for various reasons, including reaching eligibility age, undergoing shifts in personal or financial circumstances, or reevaluating their healthcare requirements. 

This switch can be driven by the desire to access Medicare’s wide range of benefits and services at reduced or no cost, especially when private health insurance premiums become financially challenging or when coverage no longer aligns with an individual’s healthcare priorities.

Understanding the differences between private health insurance and Medicare is crucial for anyone considering this switch. Medicare provides comprehensive coverage for many healthcare services, including visits to general practitioners, specialists, and some hospital services under the public health system. However, it does not cover private hospital costs, certain dental services, and other extras that private health insurance may offer. 

While Medicare offers broad access to healthcare, private insurance can provide faster access to treatments, choice of doctors, and additional services like dental and optical care. Weighing these differences, including the scope of coverage, associated costs, and each option’s benefits, is essential for making an informed decision that best suits your healthcare requirements and financial situation.

Waiting Periods
Post-Switch

Understanding waiting periods is crucial when switching health insurance policies. If you switch to a new policy with similar or lesser coverage than your current one, generally, waiting periods you’ve already served for equivalent coverages won’t be re-imposed. However, if you decide to upgrade your coverage to include additional benefits not previously covered, be prepared to serve new waiting periods for those added benefits.

This ensures that you have immediate access to similar levels of coverage you were already entitled to while maintaining the insurer’s protection against immediate high-cost claims for new services.

Switching cover with no waiting period

Under specific conditions, switching health insurance coverage without incurring new waiting periods is possible. To ensure a smooth transition and avoid additional waiting periods, it’s essential to select a new policy offering comparable or lesser benefits than your current one. 

This approach is supported by legislation and industry standards designed to protect consumers, allowing for continuity of care and coverage. Before making a switch, review the new policy’s terms carefully and consult with the new insurer about the transfer of any waiting periods served to ensure you fully understand your entitlements and any potential implications.

Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

Yes, policyholders can switch health insurance policies whenever it suits their requirements. However, before switching, it’s important to consider any ongoing treatments, waiting periods for specific services, and potential costs associated with cancelling your current policy.

Transferring to a new insurer is entirely feasible and can offer benefits like better coverage or more competitive premiums. When transferring, ensure your new policy meets your healthcare requirements and that you understand any new terms or waiting periods.

While it is possible to hold dual policies, carefully evaluate the cost-effectiveness and benefits of this approach. In some cases, having two policies might offer complementary coverage, but assessing whether the extra cost provides proportional value is essential.

Switching after a premium increase can be wise, especially if you find another insurer offering better deals or more suitable coverage. Premium increases are a good opportunity to review your current policy and compare the market to ensure you get the best value.

Making an informed decision when switching involves several key steps: Assessing the pros and cons of leaving your current provider, considering your current and future healthcare requirements, and reviewing the terms of potential new policies. Additionally, choosing an optimal time to switch, such as before a premium increase or after serving important waiting periods, can enhance the benefits of switching.

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Specialist

Megan has extensive experience writing about health and life insurance in Australia. Megan has a special interest in health and wellness. She relies on her background in counselling psychology to convey the latest findings in a manner that is most beneficial to ComparingExperts readers. In every article she writes, Megan aims to uphold the standards of the Private Health Insurance Intermediaries Association (PHIAA) which ComparingExpert is part of.

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