How I saved $600 a year on my health insurance
THE LAST 12 months have been somewhat enlightening when it comes to my understanding of private health insurance.
Starting from a knowledge base of precisely nada, I've not only discovered the basics of how it works, but also managed to save our family $4000 with a hack I stumbled upon earlier this year while researching for an operation my husband needed to have.
Just this week I came across another little trick that ended up saving my family an additional $600 a year - via a simple change to my policy I'd never even considered as an option.
(A little disclaimer here - I realise I may sound like I have a vested interest in private health insurance, seeing as I keep banging out articles about it. Trust me, this ain't the case - I'm just a recovering spendthrift mum trying to wrangle my way towards a more affordable life for my family. If private health insurance isn't for you, that's perfectly fine!)
It all started a few weeks ago ...
Pleased as I was that we'd finally gotten some use out of our policy, the monthly premium was still stinging the back pocket.
Bills, along with the general costs of keeping a tiny human alive (why oh WHY does his favourite fruit have to be raspberries, the Hermes bag of the grocery world?) my husband and I had been struggling to save anything.
After putting it off for months, we sat down to write out a budget and try to identify the areas in which we could shave off a few dollars here and there.
The reluctant number crunch
After ditching the cleaner (sob!) and committing to a pared-back weekly grocery budget, the other big cost we decided to try and reduce was our private health insurance.
At $400 a month, even a moderate saving in that area was going to make a significant difference, so I picked up the phone to see what my provider could offer.
The first question I asked was whether or not I was paying for anything that I didn't really need - maybe we were paying for cataracts and hip replacement cover when we didn't need to worry for a few more decades?
Alas, my friendly phone consultant informed me there is no such thing as cataracts and hip replacement cover, (damn) and while there were a few dollars to be saved in reducing the amount of coverage we had, he suggested a better option I'd never even thought of.
The policy tweak that saved me hundreds
"Your hospital excess is $450 at the moment," he informed me.
"It's a one-off payment per adult, per year, so you'd only ever pay it once in a calendar year, no matter how many claims you had to make," he continued.
What he then explained was that by raising our excess by just $50 - to $500 - it would drop our monthly premiums to $350, which is a monthly saving of $50.
A $50 increase in our excess - which only applies for hospital cover and, with our policy, only for overnight stays - was definitely a cost we were willing to absorb if we need to, especially since we'd recoup that money in the first month of our reduced premium.
Without having to compromise on the type of cover we had, we'd suddenly saved ourselves $600 per year, and our budget is now looking slightly less terrifying.
Why it always pays to ask
As a card-carrying member of Gen Y, I suffer from Chronic Phone Call Avoidance (CPCA), so picking up the phone to stay on hold with a service provider is my idea of hell.
I blame this dislike of dealing with bureaucracy for the fact that I'd happily paid out a sizeable chunk of my salary each month for years before making any effort to figure out exactly what I was paying for - or how I could better make use of the product.
That being said, a simple phone call was all it took for me to not only save big bucks, but understand my policy better as well. If you're looking for a way to tighten the belt, budget-wise, picking up the phone to see how you can tweak your health insurance policy might well be the way to go.
This article is based on the experience of one family and any decisions about your own health insurance policy should be made in consultation with your insurance provider.
This article originally appeared on Kidspot.