If you’re going to university in Australia, get excited for the friendly locals, stunning landscapes, excellent academics, and, of course, mandatory health insurance. As a student, you’ll be required to purchase health insurance, regardless of whether you had insurance back in your home country.

A recent study, however, found that university students, as a group, have the lowest insurance claim rates of any other population in Australia. And even fewer international students are making claims. This means that students are not receiving as much emergency or wellness care, which is to be expected with a younger, healthier group, but they are also not taking advantage of preventative care.

Looking into this issue a little deeper, we find that there are three major reasons that university students make very few claims to their student health insurance.

1. Confusion

The primary reason is that students don’t have a clear understanding of their policy benefits. While they may have understood their previous policies, or their parents’ policies, or the healthcare system of their home country, starting over with a completely new carrier and plan means there is a lot of room for misunderstanding. Often students are unclear about what exactly is covered, how much can be claimed, how to take advantage of preventative care, and the annual cycle of claims and payments.

This last point is important, since students need to learn how to maximize their claims before the cut off periods. These dates can mean the difference between a successful claim and one that is denied. One of the best ways to take advantage of your student health insurance is to know these key dates and make sure that you are filing claims and spending any flex funds within the set time periods.

2. Preventative care

Another reason students tend to file fewer claims is that they are not taking advantage of the preventative care services that are often covered by insurance policies. While students might have routinely seen the dentist twice a year back at home, once they get to university, their schedule changes. Students are busy; they have pressing deadlines, busy social lives, and final exams. It’s a lot harder to maintain that preventative care routine when you’re at university.

3. Money matters

And finally, the fact that students are on tighter budgets means that they are ready to forego care that seems expensive. They might skip the dentist or their annual wellness exam if it’s just one more thing that costs money (and university in Australia is already expensive!) However, it is very important for students to understand their policies as they might be surprised to learn that some of these expenses are mostly or even completely covered by their policies. It might not cost a student anything to get their eyesight checked and get glasses should they be needed.

Since students are required to purchase health insurance, there are ways that they can really take advantage of their policies. Rather than a financial burden, students should see these policies as a way to save money, receive better health care, and even have cleaner teeth and better eyesight!

Tips for Maximizing Your Healthcare Policy

Plan Ahead

Knowing those key dates that make up your insurance annual cycle can really make a difference in taking advantage of your policy. You want to be sure that you make the deadline for all of your claims so that you receive the largest possible compensation amount.

Understand Your Policy

You need to know what you can claim and what you can’t. Most policies will cover dental and eye care, but some will even cover wellness items like massages, therapy sessions, and acupuncture. The flip side is knowing what’s not covered. If you have a bare bones policy, you probably can’t claim massages – so be ready to pay for things like that out of pocket.

Take Care of Yourself

Remember that if you don’t make time to care for yourself and keep those preventative care appointments, you might end up with problems that cost more time and money down the line. Getting your teeth cleaned twice a year might not seem like a priority now, but it could save you painful and expensive dental work in the future.

Find the Right Policy for You

While it’s tempting to go for the cheapest policy, do your research. It might be that a policy that costs a little more up front actually provides way more in the long run. Compare providers and think about the benefits and how they might make your life easier and healthier.

Again, as a student in Australia, you are going to have to have insurance no matter what, so you might as well really take advantage of all that these policies have to offer. You’ll be better off in the long run!