When taking out new cover, whether it is your first health insurance policy or you are adding a new service to your existing policy, waiting periods will apply. Waiting periods are in place to discourage “fly by” policy holders who take out cover, obtain the benefit and then cancel the policy. Unlike other insurances, pre-existing conditions will not increase premiums nor restrict ability to obtain health insurance, however, waiting periods will still apply.
Waiting periods vary across funds, as do the services offered. Typically, lower cost services such as general dental, optical and physiotherapy will have shorter waiting periods. Services such as certain hospital cover and extras benefits such as obstetrics will have longer waiting periods. During the waiting period the full cost to access these services will have to be paid by the policy holder.
Although there are waiting periods in place with some hospital services, in the event of an accident, the fund may cover the costs as per the policy during the waiting period.
The nature of health legislation increases the portability of health fund policies. This means that you can change health insurers without having to sit it out for another waiting period, provided you have already fulfilled the required waiting period with your previous provider. Of course, if a new service or cover is added, you will still be subject to a new waiting period, if one is required.