Is the pandemic hitting your pockets? A look at health insurance firms’ COVID-19 relief packages

  • November 16, 2020 06:20 PM AEDT
  • Kunal Sawhney
    Kunal Sawhney
    CEO Kunal Sawhney
    2781 Posts

    Kunal Sawhney is founder & CEO at Kalkine and is a richly experienced and accomplished financial professional with a wealth of knowledge in the Australian Equities Market. Kunal obtained a Master of Business Administration degree from University of T...

Is the pandemic hitting your pockets? A look at health insurance firms’ COVID-19 relief packages

Summary

  • With reports of pharma companies and medical associations coming up with Covid-19 vaccines and treatments, healthcare and the insurance sector have come under spotlight like never before.
  • Health ensuring firms are proposing additional relief packages and assisting people hit with Covid-19, in finance management.
  • Most of the health insurers have rescheduled their yearly premium increases, usually slated for 1 April, by a minimum of six months for all the customers.

In the wake of the ongoing Covid-19 crisis, many Australians have been hit by high healthcare costs, burning a hole in their pockets. Several Australian health funds have come to their rescue by offering them various financial relief packages along with extended or extra coverage.

Most of the health insurers have rescheduled their yearly premium increases, usually slated for 1 April, by a minimum of six months for all the customers. This suggests that most people’s premiums will not rise until around the 1st of October this year. Many of the funds are extending coverage for all policy holders and many, even regardless of the tier of their cover, to include Covid-19 related hospitalisations.

A few of the health insurers are proposing additional relief to existing members who are going through economic strains due to COVID-19. There are instances where insurers are offering premium discounts, allowing policy holders to suspend their health cover for a specified tenure.

Meanwhile, Pfizer and BioNTech, on 9 November 2020, announced their vaccine candidate – BNT162b2, against SARS-CoV-2. The first interim analysis of phase 3 research provides proof that this vaccine may effectively prevent Covid-19. On the basis of present forecasts, the company anticipates manufacturing up to 50 million vaccine doses in the year 2020 and up to 1.3 billion doses in the year 2021 on a global level.

Here are some key insurance players and their plans to provide relief from Covid-19 to people of Australia.

Do read: Will life return to normal after Covid-19 vaccine?

AAMI

For a limited time, the insurance organisation has offered special relief options for people suffering issues due to Covid-19. Available products feature AAMI Home, Contents, Car, Caravan and Motorcycle policies starting from or before 3 August 2020 along with the renewals of those policies.

Besides, the company provides free temporary roadside assistance to all doctors, nurses, hospital staff, paramedics, police and SES workers across Australia until the 31st of December 2020. This is because, it is important more than ever, that those on the frontline get where they need to be. Also, since the impact of the virus is being felt across the entire small business community, the firm lends a few options to ease up the financial stress.  

Existing customers who have economic problems due to the pandemic can even suspend their cover for up to six months.

All customers have had their premium raise postponed until the 1st of October 2020. Customers with all levels of hospital cover now have coverage expanded to include Covid-19 treatment.

Also read: Australian banks to face possible defeats due to Covid-19

ahm health insurance

ahm is a part of Medibank health insurance group and claims to be a specialist in providing health insurance. ahm provides financial support options to members who have been impacted. The two options are - Financial Hardship Policy Suspension and Partial Premium Assistance. While the first one allows you to put the policy on hold for a period, the latter gives a 50% reduction on the premium for six months.

Besides, customers who are not receiving government support payments but are financially impacted by Covid-19 and are living in an area declared a state of disaster will also be able to apply for a discount on their premium for three months.

Also, all the customers have their premium raise postponed until 1 October 2020 and those with hospital cover have their coverage expanded to include chest, heart, lung, kidney and Covid-19 related admissions.

Must read: How are developing world economies preparing for Covid-19 vaccine deployment and testing?

Apia Health Insurance

Apia provides specialised insurance in over 50 categories including health, car, home, contents, travel and funeral insurance.

Members who are going through economic downturn due to the pandemic are eligible to suspend their health cover for up to six months. The firm had suspended its premium increase until the 1st of October 2020 for all the customers. Members with hospital cover also now have their coverage expanded to include Covid-19 treatment at no extra cost.

Also read: A glance at private health insurance players – Latrobe, TUH Health Fund & health.com.au

 

Australian Unity

This firm boasts of a history of providing support through times of war, economic turmoil, and natural catastrophes. Australian Unity has a comprehensive Covid-19 response package to support the members, customers, employees, supply chains, public and private healthcare capacity and the broader community.   

To assist in reducing the fiscal effect of the Covid-19 pandemic, the firm has postponed all private health insurance and overseas visitors cover premium increases for 6 months, till 1st of October 2020.

In addition, the firm is also covering policy holders for covid-19 related hospital admissions, regardless of their level of cover. If the hospital cover is taken out for the first time on or post 1st July 2020, a two -month general waiting period operates. This plan will stay in place until the 31st of March 2021 and may extend further too.

The firm has also developed a range of assistance options for banking customers. This feature allows the customers to temporarily pause repayments on loans, including credit cards, relief on interest rate and early access to term deposits without any fee.

In addition to this, the firm has financial advisors and an investment service team that advises and guides customers about their current and future financial wellbeing.

Don’t miss: What is Medicare Levy Surcharge?

 

Bupa Health Insurance

In March 2020, Bupa had delayed the 1 April premium raise for six months to provide immediate assistance to all the customers. The firm also announced $50 million of financial hardship relief for most affected people. The company has covered all sorts of lung and chest conditions, including the ones arising from Covid-19 in all the hospital covers. To add to this, services currently include claims for psychology, speech pathology, physiotherapy, occupational therapy and dietic services delivered through telehealth, while one is at home.

To add to the convenience, this one comes with a special video and phone consultation for selected extras services. Customers can claim services like psychology, counselling, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, exercise physiology, dietetics as well as antenatal/ postnatal midwife consults provided via phone or video conference.

 


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