Health insurance & the pandemic: read before ditching your cover

Private health insurance & the pandemic | Beanstalk Mums

In the midst of a global pandemic, the last thing any single parent wants to hear is that their household bills are getting bigger. We spend so much time trying to be frugal with our well-thought-out grocery lists and Facebook marketplace secondhand bargains but lo and behold; the cost of private health insurance is increasing again on April 1st.[1]

This time, families can expect to pay an extra $127 on average per year for their policies[2]. With the hangover from COVID-19 financial struggle still very real, it’s understandable that this year’s increase has placed private health insurance firmly on the chopping block for some single parent families. Before you go ahead and ditch your cover all together, we’ve put together the top 4 things you should you consider first.

1. Can you afford to wait?

Elective surgery wait times in public hospitals have recently skyrocketed due to the COVID-19 backlog[1]. So the question you should be asking yourself is, can myself or family afford to wait months (or even years in some cases!) for elective surgery? Elective surgery, while not considered an emergency, is medically necessary and can include things such as the removal of tonsils or a knee reconstruction. As a single parent, it could prove quite challenging to wait a prolonged period of time for surgery and potentially live in pain whilst trying to juggle the kids and the household. With private health cover, the wait time for elective surgeries is generally much quicker so it’s important to consider this when creating your pros and cons list for private cover.

2. Do your Extras stack up?

One of the key benefits of private health insurance is Extras cover. If you and the kids are often visiting the physio, the dentist or perhaps someone in the family wears glasses, then you’d know that those costs can add up over time. Extras can help to lessen the blow of those things not covered by Medicare. If you’re reconsidering your health cover, think about whether you’re currently getting enough use out of your Extras and if not, you could consider downgrading your policy to Hospital only. Be cautioned that if you do drop your Extras or your health cover all together, be prepared to pay the full fee for these services when and if you and your family do need them.

3. Is your cover providing you peace of mind?

When you have a family, you begin to really value anything that provides you with ‘peace of mind’ when it comes to protecting them. The ongoing global crisis and pressure on the public health system has highlighted the importance of health and access to quality health care. The peace of mind that cover provides is arguably more valuable than ever to some single parent families so it’s important to take this into account if you’re currently considering cancelling your private cover.

4. Have you looked switching instead of ditching?

If you have been on the fence about your private health insurance recently and are struggling to keep up with the premiums, you might like to consider ‘switching’ instead of ‘ditching’. By exploring other options, you could save your family hundreds of dollars a year with a similar level of cover at a lower price with a different fund.  A comparison service like iSelect can compare your current policy against others from their range of providers and help find you an alternative better suited to your needs and budget.

As a single income household, the financial pressures of the pandemic has likely been hard enough so don’t let an increase in the cost of private health insurance get the better of you. There are other options out there such as downgrading your cover or switching your policy to allow you to hold on to the peace of mind private health insurance brings you while potentially saving yourself some extra cash at the same time. And now more than ever, a dollar saved is a dollar earned!

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[2] Based on weekly calculations included in Minister’s media release: 

[3] Source: Rise in elective surgery activity following COVID-19 suspension, NSW Bureau of Health Information, 9 December 2020. 

Source: Elective surgery waitlist blowout could last two years, committee hears, Herald Sun, 4 December 2020.


*iSelect does not compare all health insurance providers or policies in the market. The availability of policies will change from time to time. Not all policies available from its providers are compared by iSelect and due to commercial arrangements, your stated needs and circumstances, not all policies compared by iSelect are available to all customers. Some policies and special offers are available only from iSelect’s contact centre or website. Click here to view iSelect’s range of providers.

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Jessie Petterd

About the author

Jessie Petterd is a spokeswoman for iSelect, where they are passionate about helping Australians reduce their household bills to save time, effort and money. When Jessie’s not talking about utilities and insurance, she likes to spend her time baking up a storm and re-watching 90s romantic comedies.

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