Wish it was easier to compare policies? Want to learn how to spot quality cover? Our guides can help you become more informed about private health cover in no time.
Why Do I Need Private Health Insurance
With access to Medicare for Australians, many people looking to take out private health cover for the first time ask this very question. The reasons differ among almost half of the population who are covered – here are some of the main ones.
Do you like people fitting into your schedule? Private health cover gives you more choice and control if you need to go to hospital. You’ll be able to choose your doctor, preferred hospital and the timing of your procedure (subject to availability). You may also be able to request a private room. For instance, our arrangements with Members First hospitals mean that if you book a private room more than 24 hours before your admission and don’t receive one, you’ll get $50 back per night from the hospital^.
Avoid the wait
You’re young and healthy, so don’t need health cover right? Unfortunately it doesn’t always work out that way. Something unexpected like needing to have your tonsils out could land you on a public hospital waiting list for months – or a hefty fee in a private hospital if you’re not insured.
For hospital procedures which are not classified as a medical emergency, the wait can be lengthy – sometimes over a year. This can vary by treatment and the state you live in. For instance, the median wait time for a knee replacement in 2014-15 was 191 days, with a number of patients waiting over a year. For the same period, those needing ear, nose and throat surgery in NSW need to wait almost five times as long as those in QLD+.
Cover beyond Medicare
Regular trips to dentist and physio can add up. That’s where extras cover (also known as ancillary cover) can help. Depending on the type of extras cover you choose, after you serve your waiting periods you’ll be able to claim money back for some of the costs of everyday health services that may not be covered by Medicare - like dental, physio and optical - up to your yearly cover limits. Some of the more comprehensive covers will include a wide range of services like remedial massage, acupuncture, naturopathy, health aids and appliances and dietitian consultations.
Save money with health cover
Depending on your age and income, there are several ways having health insurance can actually save money. For starters, if you take out hospital cover before July 1st following your 31st birthday, you can avoid paying the Australian Government’s Lifetime Health Cover (LHC) loading. For each year you delay, you could pay an additional 2% for hospital cover - up to a maximum of 70%. This extra cost will remain in place for 10 continuous years.
There’s also the Government’s Medicare Levy Surcharge (MLS). To help fund healthcare, most Australian residents pay a Medicare Levy of 2% of their taxable income. In addition to this, if you earn over $90,000 (singles), or over $180,000 (couples/ families) and don’t have appropriate hospital cover, you may have to pay an extra 1-1.5% tax - more than the cost of some of our hospital covers.
Money back in your pocket
The Government may contribute an amount (known as a 'rebate') towards the cost of your private health insurance premium. The rebate amount is based on your age and income. For instance, singles under 65 who earn $90k or less will receive a rebate of 26.791%*. The rebate is quick and easy to claim – you can choose to get it as a reduced premium or as a lump sum at tax time.