Queenslanders forking out more for insurance: report

QUEENSLANDERS appear to be paying more for family and couples' health insurance than any other mainland state, a survey of almost 60,000 Australians has found.

Research compiled by the Big Health Insurance Switch campaign shows Queenslanders are being asking to fork out $3230 on average each year for family cover and $3143 for couples cover, compared to the national averages of $3096 and $3049 respectively.

One Big Switch compiled the report using information gleaned from the 58,000 people who registered with the campaign.

Average premiums in New South Wales were close to the national average.

The report found a majority of Australians were confused about their private health insurance and could no longer afford the cover they wanted.

Of the 58,000 people who registered, Queensland (26%) and New South Wales (27%) accounted for more than half.

Almost 52,000 people said they already had health insurance and 4500 did not.

Peace of mind was found to be the main reason for people taking out health cover (73% of policyholders), while price was identified as the main barrier by 65% of those without policies.

Christopher Zinn, One Big Switch's director of campaigns, said much of the confusion centred around government rebates and changing regulation.

For example, 25% of policyholders didn't know whether they received a government rebate, while 20% could not name the correct government rebate for their income band.

This number climbed to 42% among households earning between $168,001 and $194,000. Amazingly, 13% didn't even know the details of their premium.

"As costs continue to rise, many Australians are telling us they can't afford private health insurance, but they also feel they can't afford to do without it," Mr Zinn said.

"The problem with so much confusion is that it makes it much harder for them to shop around for a better deal."

One Big Switch has also used the data to create an interactive Health Insurance "Spendometer" that allows consumers to compare what they spend to others like them.

The Big Health Insurance Switch, which launched in late February, is designed to help people get cheaper health insurance premiums.

Organisers set out with the goal of signing up 25,000 people by March 22. As of yesterday more than 72,000 people had registered.

The campaign is modelled on the One Big Switch campaign, which last year helped more than 60,000 people get a better deal on their power bills.

One Big Switch obtains a fee from the businesses that gain customers through the campaigns.