Many Australians have just been slugged with the biggest health insurance premium hike in a decade. The average premium has gone up 6.2 per cent, affecting many already-tight family budgets.
If health costs are starting to hurt you, here are some ways you can save – some can actually improve your health as well. Even with good private health cover, the out-of-pocket expenses can still bite, so staying as healthy as possible is a big cost saver.
1. Compare and switch
Around 30,000 to 40,000 Australians switch their health cover plans every year, according to the Private Health Insurance Administration Council, so if you feel there may be a better deal elsewhere, take a look. Sites such as Canstar and iSelect allow you to check your fund against others on the market.
2. Cancel the gym
Thousands of Australians have expensive gym memberships they never use. Save the cash and start walking and cycling in Australia’s wonderful outdoors for free. Riding your bike to work instead of taking public transport or your car will also help improve your fitness while saving you money.
3. Get cooking
Each year, Australians waste 4 million tonnes of food, much of it being expensive, processed food. Households waste around $1000 per year throwing away food – that could easily cover your increased health premiums.
Cooking from scratch is cheaper and healthier and it’s easier to make the exact amount you need. Planning meals and sticking to shopping lists also helps avoid waste. Try shopping online – you’ll avoid the unhealthy, impulse-buy displays of cakes and lollies.
4. Healthier drinking
Whether expensive coffees, sugary sodas or alcoholic drinks, switching half of your booze, coke and caffeine habit for plain water will save you hundreds of dollars and hugely improve your health. Ditching just three soft drinks at $3 each, three beers at $6 each and three cappuccinos at $3.50 each per week will save you nearly $2000 per year, not to mention a host of toxic calories.
5. Green and clean
Watching your energy usage is good for the environment and good for you. Sleeping in a too-hot or too-cold room affects your sleep, which is detrimental to your overall health. There are plenty of water and power-saving tips on the government’s LivingGreener site, with solar power and insulation the top ways to reduce home energy costs.
It’s a good idea to put these savings aside so if you do end up with out-of-pocket health costs, or want an elective or alternative treatment, the money is already there. A high interest savings account will stop you frittering away the cash you save and also help it grow.