Private health insurance has become a quagmire of cost and confusion for Australian households, says Mr Matt Levey, the director of campaigns and communications at the consumer advocacy group, CHOICE.
There are "more than 40,000 products in the market", he said.
A survey by CHOICE found that 44% of policyholders believed comparing policies was "difficult", while the rest was split between "neutral" and "easy". The complexity of health insurance policies discourages Australians from shopping around for a more competitive deal, said Mr Levey.
He said: "People are buying or sticking with policies that they may not understand or may not work for them."
CHOICE urges the government to make policies easier for consumers to understand.
CHOICE has also found that Australians are paying private health insurers for extras that erode in value. The consumer group examined thousands of extras cover policies from 23 funds as part of an investigation into the value of private health insurance. The analysis found 72% of the benefits paid by providers stagnated in value, in the three years from 2013, despite Australians paying 19% more. This is in addition to a rise in health insurance premiums causing Australian households to rank private health insurance as a top concern.
Worries over premiums, which have increased by 55% since 2009, have led to the federal government commissioning a Senate inquiry into the value and affordability of private health insurance.