Australians with private health cover are set to be slogged by premium price hikes as many toss up whether to downgrade or cancel their insurance amid cost-of-living pressures.
Health insurance premiums are expected to rise by an average of 2.9 per cent this year, according to comparison service iSelect.
Increases start on Saturday for eight funds, while other insurers have postponed this year’s premium increases — a move several did last year.
Looking for a new job or job candidate? Post jobs and search for local talent on 7NEWS Jobs >>
The eight funds cover more than one million Australians — or one in 10 health insurance customers — who will grapple with higher premiums from April 1, according to comparison website Finder.
HBF, a major fund with a 7.3 per cent market share, is among the insurers upping their premiums from Saturday.
Other insurers increasing their premiums include HIF, Mildura Health Fund, onemedifund, Peoplecare, Queensland Country Health Fund, RBHS and Westfund.
Almost half of those with private health cover have it for peace of mind in case they become sick or injured, a Finder survey of 575 Australians found.
Finder health insurance expert James Martin urged people to switch funds to save on the cost of cover, split their combined hospital and extras policies and choose two standalone policies, and prepay for 12 months or more of cover before premiums increased further.
“Health is top of mind for many Australians,” he said.
“The consequences of being uninsured need to be weighed up, as the stakes are high.”
One in three people with private health insurance has considered downgrading or cancelling their cover in the past year, according to iSelect.
Additionally, almost half of all families planned to cut back their household budget to afford their health cover, research commissioned by the service found.
The average 2.9 per cent premium increase would equate to about $134 a year on a family policy and about $60 a year for singles, the service said.
iSelect spokeswoman Sophie Ryan urged consumers whose funds were set to increase their premiums on Saturday to compare their options before the price hikes kick in.
“Meanwhile, if your fund has postponed your increase, remember that it’s not a cancellation — your policy will likely still rise at some point this year,” she said.
“Don’t wait to shop around and compare your options to see if you can save some money.”
More than a third of the 1000 people with health policies surveyed were unaware when or if their premium would increase this year, Ryan said.
If you’d like to view this content, please adjust your .