In times of good health, it can be all too easy to take our physical wellbeing for granted. However, if the unexpected should happen and more serious medical attention is required, health insurance can be invaluable in ensuring access to the care we need.
While Medicare is able to cover many of the hospital, medical and pharmaceutical expenses you may incur throughout your lifetime, there are also significant areas of healthcare that are excluded from the system.
In these situations, private health insurance can be essential as it can help cover treatments and services that Medicare does not.
Private health insurance
There are generally two types of health insurance policies available, hospital cover and extras cover. Most health funds will also offer the ability to package their hospital and extras cover into a combined package. Hospital cover offers cover for the cost of in-hospital treatment by a doctor and expenses incurred throughout the process.
You can tailor your level of protection to suit your preferences, with the most basic level covering default benefits for treatments in public hospitals only through to the most comprehensive level covering all services where Medicare pays a benefit.1 Depending on the level of cover you choose, you could choose to be covered for services such as hip & knee replacements, pregnancy, heart surgery, dialysis or eye surgery.
While this type of policy can be helpful, many people also choose to add ancillary or extras cover into their insurance to help them with the expense of the services that they are more likely to use on a regular basis.
The benefit of extras cover
While hospital cover can offer financial assistance towards the expense of private patient hospital costs (such as accommodation and theatre fees) and ambulance services. It does not cover out of hospital services like dental and physiotherapy services, hearing aids, home nursing, glasses and contact lens and more.2 Access to these services can be costly, and without cover they could have a substantial impact on your wallet.
Luckily, there are a variety of extras cover policies you can choose from, ranging from basic cover through to comprehensive. If you select the most comprehensive cover, this will generally include services such as dental, endodontic, optical, physiotherapy, podiatry, psychology and pharmaceuticals not covered by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), although this will all depend on the health fund you select.3
A health cover comparison can ensure you have the extras policy to suit your needs at your current stage of life. For example, seniors may benefit from extras cover for hearing aids, home nursing and optical services, families may wish to take advantage of speech therapy and those who enjoy physical activity may benefit from physiotherapy or remedial massage.
For most people, extras cover for treatments such as major and general dental procedures can definitely come in handy.
Many health funds offer a packaged option that lets you combine hospital and extras cover into one policy. Some will be pre-arranged while others will be more flexible, allowing you to mix and match cover for different services. Comparing health insurance policies will help you find a product that best suits your needs, lifestyle and budget.
- How it works, Private Health Insurance Ombudsman
- What is covered by Medicare?, Private Health Insurance Ombudsman
- What is covered by private health insurance?, Private Health Insurance Ombudsman
These articles are provided as reference material to allow more informed decision making, but are not intended as being a complete source of information on any topic. All readers should make their own independent analysis on the topic to make sure they have considered the aspects that are important to them.