With the increasing cost and complexity of health insurance and not least of the services covered, it pays to reflect on what it is you hope to receive through insurance.

For most people it is peace of mind, that in the event of a serious health problem, they will be able to access the right care when they need it.

The new tiers system will aid the decision process by simplifying the path to your choice. 

Australia’s health system provides the best of acute care when we are in dire need of treatment, such as after road accidents or in the event of a heart attack, but it is a different matter when it comes to less urgent, elective care. Even for life-changing treatment such as cataract surgery, hip replacement or in some cases even cancer treatment, patients dependent on public services can wait weeks or many months longer than those who can afford private insurance and expensive gap costs.

An important consideration is that, having private health insurance does not necessarily protect patients from out of pocket costs. As our Out of Pocket Pain report last year found some people can face between $5,000 to $10,000 for treatments such as cancer care and joint replacement. 

A vital consideration is your health status now and likely in the future. For those with chronic health conditions, health insurance in most cases provides a measure of protection against some if not all treatment costs and can reassure and comfort those who can afford it.

An important and separate consideration is the impact of tax penalties for those on higher incomes who do not take out insurance. As well, for those over 30 who do not take out insurance, there is the increasing burden of the Lifetime Health Cover surcharge of an extra 2 per cent on premiums for each year for each year over 30 you do not sign on for insurance.

So, there is a great deal of information to get across if you wish to make an informed decision. As the Health Insurance Ombudsman states: 'There are many things to consider when looking into private health insurance.'