This month, I am focussing on getting things I leave undone sorted. Some thing I have left undone for a long while was reviewing our health insurance policy. My husband and I did this recently and it wasn’t really as big a deal as we had originally made it out to be. One of the biggest factors in our decision making was around extras cover. It can be a bit of a confusing area, and you want to make sure you are getting the most out of it, because let’s face it – it’s where your day to day value is.
So today I have Sally from Health Insurance Comparison on the blog explaining how to get the most out of your extras health cover.
When it comes to health insurance Extras cover, you’re probably most likely to think of dental and optical services, and maybe physio and chiro. These are definitely some of the most popular Extras services and are usually included on even the most basic policies (to some degree, at least) but Extras cover can go a lot further than this in reducing out-of-pocket costs for the out-of-hospital services that your family needs.
Depending on your health fund and the level of Extras cover that you hold, some of the Extras services that could also be available to you include natural/alternative therapies, podiatry, nutrition advice, health aids, antenatal and postnatal services, pharmacy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, eye therapy, psychology and home nursing.
Types of Extras Cover
Basic Extras policies generally include popular services such as General Dental, Optical and sometimes Physiotherapy but won’t necessarily go much beyond this. There are usually low annual limits attached to these and the average family could easily exceed these levels in the average year and start incurring out-of-pocket costs beyond what the policy will cover. You may therefore want to have broader cover and have more generous annual limits, particularly if you anticipate that your family will access popular Extras services quite often. Basic Extras policies don’t include Major Dental and Orthodontics so you’ll definitely need to look at having mid to top level cover for these type of services.
Mid level Extras cover is more substantial than basic Extras with regards to the number of services that are included and the annual limits attached to them. Major Dental and Orthodontics services will often be included here, along with many other benefits that are usually not available on basic Extras. If you’re wanting to be covered for a good range of Extras but don’t have the budget for top level cover, this is a good compromise for many families.
Top level Extras is the most comprehensive type of cover, with the most generous annual limits and the broadest range of services. Most top level policies will not have any restrictions in terms of what is included on the cover. If you know that your family will get a lot of use out of a range of Extras services and you have the budget to buy top level cover, it can be an invaluable buy.
Some health funds give you the choice to put together your own selection of Extrasservices based on your family’s needs, which can be a great option if pre-packaged Extras policies don’t work well for your particular requirements.
Getting the Best Value for Money
Some health funds offer money back on Extras services, up to a maximum amount. Unsurprisingly, the most generous money back will be on top level Extras cover. Not all health funds do this but it can be a good way to make your Extras cover more affordable.
You may also be able to benefit from loyalty bonuses with certain health funds, with a slight rise in benefits for each year that you maintain your cover. Again, this won’t be available across all health funds.
Waiting periods are something that you’ll need to be aware of, particularly for Major Dental and Orthodontics; both of these usually need to be on your policy for 12 months before you can start claiming for them. Most Extras services have some form of waiting period attached to them, often between 2 and 6 months (depending on the health fund). You’ll therefore need to be thinking about what your family might need before it becomes absolutely crucial to avoid being caught out by waiting periods.
Reviewing Your Cover Regularly
A big part of getting the most out of your health insurance is to review your policy on a regular basis to check that it is still working well for you. Ideally, it’s best to do this at least once per year. As part of this, you should think about the Extras services that your family will be needing in the next 6 to 12 months, especially for the likes of Major Dental and Orthodontics.
This is also a good opportunity to look at what your family isn’t using in terms of Extras services. Some health funds allow you to mix-and-match the Extras benefits that are most important to your situation, which is perfect if you get most use out of some but don’t use most of the Extras that are usually included on mid to top level policies. As your needs change, you can usually change your choices every year.
Thanks for having us, Robyna! Hope the info proves helpful for your readers 🙂
Thank you for being here as always Sally.
Thanks Sally, this was really helpful. In the next two months I’m looking at chdnging our cover and I’m particulrily interested in dental. You don’t have any advice on tje best one do you? xx
We found Medibank was great for us, but I am not too sure on dental. Hopefully Sally will swing by with an answer!
Hi Robyn, sorry – only just seen this! Quite a few health funds are big on dental and very happy to email you a few details about the ones that might work based on that? If you prefer, you can give us a call and speak to one of our advisers. They’re always happy to talk you through the best options that might work well.
Thanks so much Sally.
This makes me miss Australia so much, where health insurance is something that offers bonus, not a hideous maze to be navigated to get basic care. I love many things about living in the US, the health care system is not one of them. Great tips!
Thanks Hannah. I hope that our government sees the value in our health system and doesn’t try to push us down the US route. 🙁