Health insurance changes leave many surprised with lack of cover
As a paramedic, Natalie Glaser has a highly stressful job, with long hours and shift work.
- Natalie Glaser was put onto a basic cover that excluded about 72 per cent of procedures she was once covered for
- Like millions of health fund members, Ms Glaser’s cover was changed as part of a new system to help customers get better value
- She received an email advising of the changes, but ignored it believing it was just marketing material from her fund
She went to her GP, complaining of an upset stomach.
“I was really scared as well, and I still am scared,” she told PM.
But when the doctor advised her to get a colonoscopy straight away, her anxiety grew further.
“My GP asked me if I’d like to go to the private hospital system or the public, and I took out my HCF cover because I said I’m sure I’m covered for this procedure,” she recalled.
“When I pulled it out and it said I wasn’t covered for it, I was quite confused.”
Natalie Glaser said she lost the majority of her coverage when HCF reviewed her policy and moved her down to a lower-cost, more basic level of coverage.
HCF informed Natalie Glaser via email in April 2019 her policy was changing from bronze level to basic, but she did not read it at the time, assuming it was a marketing message.
But there were big bold letters at the top of the email saying: “IMPORTANT CHANGES TO YOUR COVER”.
“You know, HCF themselves send hundreds of marketing emails a year, [and] I don’t tend to check all of them,” Ms Glaser said.
“And it’s not just HCF, it’s all companies send heaps of marketing every year.”
HCF has responded by saying that, when it has to make changes, it goes above the notification requirements of the Private Health Insurance legislation.
Where it is a significant change to hospital benefits, it told PM, HCF will provide 60 or more days’ notice.
It added that when it notifies members of any changes to their coverage or premiums, it does so according to the member’s preferred communication method, which is most commonly by mail or email.
Many people unsure about cover changes
But there is evidence Natalie Glaser is far from the only one confused by changes to her private health cover.
Insurance comparison website iSelect told PM it saw a surge in call volumes following the policy transfer process in April 2019, then again after the grace period ended this year.
“Certainly throughout September we’ve seen a big increase in the number of people contacting us to discuss how their policy has changed in terms of price or what they’re covered for,” iSelect spokesperson Laura Crowden told the ABC…
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