The changes to health insurance beginning from 1 April 2019, introduce a new series of product tiers or levels of cover which are likely to prompt us to think more deeply about what cover we really need.

The grouping into Gold, Silver, Bronze and Basic tiers, with the choice of considering an additional three 'plus' options, offers more clearly delineated choices than previously available.

As well there are improvements in other areas, including more flexibility with excess levels, 10 per cent premium discounts for young adults, and better terms possible for psychiatric patients, and country people needing travel and accommodation support. 

Consumers will also be able to take their complaints to a more strongly-resourced Private Health Insurance Ombudsman, with more staff and more powers to look into consumer issues with health funds.

Deciding on health insurance commonly throws up numerous questions. There are many choices to make: from the first step of deciding whether to have insurance, then what conditions you want to cover and at what level of cost. 

It may seem a tiresome task but deciding on your health insurance needs is worth taking seriously.  Quite apart from your future health care, it involves significant costs whether you have it or not, and if nothing else, may help you to focus on your state of health now and in the future.

We recommend taking the time to peruse the official Private Health Insurance Ombudsman comparison website which is user-friendly, allows you to compare policies and cost different options. Taking a few minutes to understand how best to use the site is well worth the time.

But be aware that not all health funds will be putting all or any of their members on to the new tier system immediately. As a result, the website will not provide information tiers for every fund until individual funds announce their revised policies.  

Here are five questions and answers to help you better understand the new private health insurance reforms and how they can assist you to evaluate your health insurance cover.