Comparing Private Health Insurance Australia - For Australian private health insurers, March and June offer the best opportunities to engage with two key audiences: existing consumers and first-time buyers. Here, Google Australia and New Zealand's Laura Parr breaks down new research that reveals Aussies' typical path to shopping and offers advice on how to strategize for each group.
Australia's private health insurance market has never been more competitive. Take-up is the lowest since 2011 and rising costs are preventing more Australians from buying insurance cover. so much so that less than half of Australians – just over 11 million – have hospital cover. As more consumers question the value of their insurance and consider other options, the battle between health insurers struggling to attract new customers and retain existing ones will only intensify.
Comparing Private Health Insurance Australia
Competition will be particularly fierce in March, before payment changes for all health insurance customers take effect on April 1, and in June, when Australians under 31 rush to secure cover by June 30 to avoid paying an extra 2% for lifetime health insurance. . During these two months, general and brand searches increase as both renovators and first-time buyers search the web for useful information, giving vendors important opportunities to reach and engage both audiences.
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The Path to Buying Private Health Insurance: How Providers Can Reach and Engage Aussies Online Laura Parr January 2019
To better understand Aussie research behavior in the private health insurance market, we collaborated with TNS Australia on a quantitative and qualitative study that explored the typical purchasing behavior of 495 consumers.
Here we break down three options suppliers can consider in their strategies to stand out in one of Australia's most competitive markets.
Although these two audiences tend to conduct research at different times, digital is an integral part of the process in any case. Australians in our survey used an average of five touchpoints along the purchase path, with 48% saying they used a search engine at some point. Both remodelers and first-time buyers typically look to vendor websites, comparison sites, and search engines to find the information they need.
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Google/TNS, Path to Purchase Research - Health Insurance, Australia, March 2017, n = 495 Australian consumers aged 18-60 who purchased health insurance in the past six months.
It is important to note that consumers are not loyal to a particular supplier when comparing their options. More than half (58%) of Australians in our survey said they were considering multiple providers at the start of their survey, with only 18% completely sure of their provider.
First things first: be online. Digital – and especially online search – has become a key battleground for the health insurance industry. To capture and earn attention from consumers, publishers need to ensure they appear during Aussies' active search by investing in relevant generic and brand keywords. From there, vendor websites must be easy to use and filled with the essential information an existing customer or first-time user needs to make an informed decision.
Aussies with current coverage tend to be older than first-time buyers, but they're increasingly aware of researching options online - and starting early. Almost half (47%) of renovators started their research weeks or months before the purchase.
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But just because they're covered doesn't mean they'll be loyal to their current provider. In fact, of consumers looking to check their insurer in 2019, half will consider using a different provider.
What are the requirements of renovators? Plans that offer the best value for money and the coverage and benefits that suit their needs.
When Australians don't feel they're getting the best value for their plans, they're quick to switch - and they're very open to considering new brands. Of Australians renewing their coverage, 87% said they were unsure or were considering multiple providers.
March is the best time to retain existing customers. Providers need to be present and relevant when newbies are researching and evaluating options online because there is a good chance of competition. Almost half (48%) of the reformers found a new service provider by researching the current one, and 73% found a new service provider online.
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Getting health insurance can be stressful and complicated, especially as the June 30 deadline approaches. In June, many Australians buying insurance for the first time need help navigating the complexities, as evidenced by the category's most popular search queries:
First-time buyers are less aware of the process and start their research late. More than half (61%) started searching just hours or minutes before making a purchase. They are also not so sure about which supplier to choose – and are therefore open to multiple brands. Only 18% of Australians who shopped in June were completely sure of their supplier - the remaining 82% were either considering more than one supplier or were unsure.
Online videos are a particularly important research tool: of the 33% of first-timers who used an online video during their shopping journey, 71% watched videos on YouTube, and the majority (80%) said the online video introduced them to a service provider they hadn't previously considered.
Based on the most common types of videos they watch, it's clear that first-timers enjoy getting opinions from industry professionals and past customers to help them make the best decision.
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With fewer Australians opting for health insurance, acquiring new customers is more challenging than ever. Influence means presence, relevance and accountability where Australians - and millennials in particular - spend the most time. YouTube reaches 92% of Australians under the age of 39, and insurance companies can attract first-time buyers with engaging and personalized content using tools like Director Mix and advanced audiences.
As Australia's private health insurance market tightens, competition between service providers is intensifying. Make sure you're serving current customers and helping potential customers by tailoring your messaging and creative to each audience based on when and where they're looking for information. As Aussies search for the best deals and most helpful service providers online, be there at the right time with the right information and you'll surely earn their loyalty.
Google partnered with TNS Australia to conduct quantitative and qualitative research to explore the private health insurance journey to purchase (where consumers look for information, where to shop, their brand loyalty, etc.).
We interviewed 495 Australian consumers aged 18 to 60 who bought health insurance in the last six months before the survey.
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And no wonder - about eight out of ten health insurances belong to the five largest health funds. Medibank and Bupa control more than half of the health insurance market share:
Are large health funds better than small ones? It depends. The largest health funds have poor value practices, but we recommend some of their other policies.
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On the other hand, some small funds have a market share of less than 0.5%, but they can still be very competitive and offer you good coverage with cheap premiums.
Narrow down your health insurance options by comparing the pros and cons of the five major health funds.
Of the big five health funds, HBF, Bupa and Medibank had a low complaint rating in the 12 months to 30 June 2021, while HCF received a high rating according to our analysis.
The classification of complaints is based on complaints made to the ombudsman of private health insurance. Want to see how other health funds have fared outside of the Big Five? See a summary of the four most complained about health insurance funds.
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When we rate policies, we give each fund a complaint rating based on the number of complaints and serious disputes handled by the ombudsman.
We take fund size into account so that large funds are not automatically penalized for more complaints. Grades are low, medium and high. A low rating is better than a high rating - this means that the fund has fewer complaints and fewer serious disputes about its size.
We rate medical funds on how likely they are to leave you 'out of pocket' for treatments, and call this their 'gap rating' - the higher the fund's gap rating, the better it is.
These ratings are based on the percentage of hospital procedures where fund members paid out-of-pocket (deficit payment).
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The gap rating considers the percentage of services where members either did not pay the gap or where the gap is known, compared to the state average.
In all medical insurance funds, you can pay your annual premium in advance before April 1 each year to avoid an increase in the insurance premium (for the following year).
HBF and NIB also offer a 4% discount if you pay by direct deposit, while HBF offers an additional 3.85% discount for pre-paying the annual fee (a 7.85% discount on the potential total).
All large funds have a discount agreement with companies
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