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Participating Health Funds

Switching health funds

young woman on laptop in park borderAs your lifestyle and circumstances change, so too do your health insurance needs. To make sure you're getting the best health insurance cover for you and your family, you should regularly review your current cover with what's available in the market. In fact, the Private Health Insurance Ombudsman recommends that you do this every year. We know this can be a pain, so moneytime makes it easy to compare leading Australian health funds on one website, so you can join or switch instantly and save money.

When it's time to make the switch, you should know your rights and what to expect during this process.

It's easy to switch health funds

When you want to switch health insurance policies or health funds, you're protected by special portability rules in the Private Health Insurance Act 2007. There are many reasons why you might consider switching health funds:

  • Changing needs - as your lifestyle changes, your health needs also change and should be reflected in your health cover. For example, add pregnancy and birth-related services if you're planning to have kids in the next year.
  • Changes to benefits - every year, Australian health funds review their policies and often make changes to the benefits, conditions and costs of their health insurance policies. You should check what effect these changes have on the health insurance policy you currently hold and whether it is still the best option for you.
  • A better deal - oftentimes people switch their health insurance cover because they find a better deal with another health fund or health insurance policy. Shopping around on a comparison site like moneytime can help you find a health insurance policy that better suits your needs at a price you're more happy to pay.
  • Upgrade to higher benefits - you may wish to upgrade your health insurance policy to add features you didn't require before, like joint replacements, or you may wish to receive higher benefits for features that you need and regularly use, like dental, optical, physio or remedial massage.

Waiting periods waived

Waiting periods that you have already served with your previous health fund are waived by your new health fund when you switch health insurance, as long as the benefits are comparable. However there may be times when you will need to serve waiting periods for your new health cover, such as:

  • if your original waiting period has not been completed, eg. if you have waited 8 months for a benefit with a 12 month waiting period on your old health insurance policy, once you switch, you will be required to wait the outstanding 4 months before that benefit is available to you on your new health insurance policy;
  • for higher benefits on your new health cover, eg. if you are required to go to hospital for a procedure that your new policy fully covers but your old policy didn't, the cover from your new health insurance policy does not apply until your waiting period has been served completely. Until then, the conditions of your old health insurance policy still apply.

Lifetime Health Cover protected

Your Lifetime Health Cover status will not be affected when you change health funds, provided that you maintain Hospital Cover with an Excess no greater than $500 for singles, or $1000 for couples and families.

Read more about Lifetime Health Cover and how it affects your health insurance premium.

What to expect when switching health funds

Once you have found the health insurance policy you would like to switch to, it's easy to switch health funds. Simply complete the application form for your newly chosen health insurance policy, and your new health fund will send you a Transfer Form that you must sign and return. This form, once signed by you, gives them the authority to request your records from your previous fund and terminate your current health insurance policy. Any premiums you have overpaid with your old health fund should be refunded by them.

The only thing that you must do is discontinue any direct debits you have in place with your old health fund through your financial institution.

Once you have switched health funds or health insurance policies, keep in mind that you cannot double claim on benefits you have already claimed for with your previous health fund in the same 12 month period.

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