Health insurance premiums will increase by an average 5.6% from 1st April, the highest increase in the past three years.
Health Minister, Tanya Plibersek, said the average increase for a family would amount to about $3.70 extra a week, which is "around the cost of a cup of coffee" - or maybe a cupcake.
Ms Plibersek said the average increase in health insurance premiums under Labor is "much lower" than it was under the Howard Government. She said this latest increase is necessary because "insurers are paying out a great deal more".
The average payment has increased by around 9.3%. Ms Plibersek also said health insurance companies are paying back a lot more money money to a lot more people with 10.7 million Australians holding private health insurance (around 45% of the population). Insurers paid out almost $14 billion in benefits to members in 2011-12.
Ms Plibersek recommended that families shop around for the best deal.
One of the best places to start is privatehealth.gov.au, developed by the government-backed Private Health Insurance Ombudsman. It provides reliable, current information about all insurers and their products.
It is easy to use and allows users to search for the type of policy cover they want and presents products offering the same cover with variations in pricing.
As an example, for a family of two adults and dependant children living in South Australia requiring top hospital cover and medium ancillary cover, the website shows 13 separate policies available with monthly premiums ranging from $267 to $582.