With elective surgeries, most dental procedures and many hands-on medical treatments such as physiotherapy, chiropractic and massage therapy drastically reduced, why should you pay full price for your private health fund?

James, 36, saw a huge downturn in his work through Uber when COVID hit Australia. He contacted his health fund, HCF, and arranged three months of premium-free hospital and extras cover.

“It was actually really easy. I spent longer on hold than I did actually speaking to them,” he said. “I just told them I was experiencing financial difficulty and gave them a few details and they set it up for me. And they said that at the end of the three months, if I’m still having problems, I can call back and extend it for another three months.

“I pay $170 a month for health insurance, so this will save me $1020 over six months.”

Of course, health funds want you to stick around during this time; they’re better off keeping you as a loyal customer by giving you premium reductions than letting you cancel entirely.

All major funds have postponed their scheduled premium increase for at least six months. But what else is your health fund offering you during this time? Keep in mind, many of the benefits offered have all the standard waiting periods and various terms and conditions so call your fund to get the details for your specific situation.

HCF, as mentioned earlier, will cover premiums for hospital only or hospital and extras cover for up to six months – if you were a member before March 31 – and you’ll still be covered during that time. They also have a dedicated COVID-19 Hardship Team in place.

NIB members can now access telehealth consultations on a range of services including physiotherapy, dietetics and psychology until June 30. Members with hospital cover, even Basic and Bronze, will be temporarily covered for coronavirus-related treatment at no additional cost.

Medibank members with hospital cover may now access COVID-19 Health Assist advice and support at home at no extra cost. This includes personalised health advice and phone support for eligible members needing care due to COVID-19, including advice on physical and mental wellbeing, monitoring of symptoms by a Medibank nurse over the phone and a rehabilitation program.

AHM is offering cover for telehealth services for services included on your extras cover until September 30 (and beyond for psychology). Regardless of your level of hospital cover, they will pay benefits towards chest, heart, lung and kidney hospital admissions, including those related to COVID-19 until the crisis passes. Members will be able to suspend their cover and members with hospital cover, even if it’s suspended, can now access the 24/7 Nurse Line and Mental health line for support during the crisis.

AAMI’s coverage for COVID-19 treatment has been expanded, and several member support options made available. If you’re experiencing financial hardship as a result of COVID-19 you can suspend your health cover. You won’t be charged premiums while it’s suspended but you also can’t claim, though members with hospital cover will still be able to access cover for COVID-19 related treatment. The maximum financial hardship suspension period has been extended from six months and the normal 12-month membership requirement will be waived.

CUA Health policy holders experiencing financial difficulty as a result of COVID-19 can suspend premium payments for three months and if you require hospital treatment during the period of the suspension, you can reactivate your policy. For the duration of the pandemic, CUA Health will cover members for all in-hospital COVID-19 treatment irrespective of their level of hospital cover. If you have extras cover, CUA Health will pay benefits for phone or video consultations covered by your policy until September 30.

Suncorp coverage has been expanded for treatment related to COVID-19 across all levels of hospital cover at no additional cost. If you’re experiencing financial hardship, you can suspend your cover so you won’t be charged premiums but you also can’t claim, though members with hospital cover will still be covered for COVID-19 related treatment. The maximum financial hardship suspension period has been extended to six months, with the standard 12-month waiting period waived.

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