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Paying your Health Insurance Premiums
The terms premiums and contributions are both used to describe your health insurance payments. Most health funds offer a range of premium payment options including direct debit and credit card as well as various forms of electronic transfer such as BPAY. Most health funds still accept payments by money order or cheque - although many prefer electronic payments and now offer discounts to encourage electronic premium payments.
Paying in advance
Generally, you must pay contributions at least one month in advance unless payments are made under a payroll deduction scheme. The maximum period for which you may pay in advance is usually 12 months.
Most offer a 'rate protection' policy under which, if you have paid in advance, you will not have to pay extra if rates are increased over the period for which you have paid. For example, lets say you pay your health insurance premiums in advance for 12 months, and there is a rate increase after four months. With rate protection, you will not have to pay the increased rate until your 12 months of health insurance cover ends.
When no 'rate protection' applies, the fund will ask you to pay the balance owing on the new rates (the difference between the old and the new premiums), or reduce the length of time your payment covers. When you are advised of rate increases, check whether the increase will affect the length of time your advance payment covers.
Your health insurance lapses - meaning you are not insured - if you are more than two months behind in paying your contributions. Some funds may not accept payment of arrears in excess of two months. In such cases they may impose further waiting periods when you resume contributions.