Since all Australians are entitled to public health care through the Medicare system, you might wonder if you really need health insurance at all.
While Medicare offers access to free basic health services, like treatment in a public hospital, it could not cope without the private health system as it continues to suffer from a lack of hospital beds and lengthy waiting lists for surgical procedures.
This is why the Australian Government encourages people to take out private health insurance by offering a rebate on both hospital and extras cover, and imposing the Medicare Levy Surcharge on those who earn a certain income but do not take out hospital cover. Lifetime Health Cover also aims to encourage people to take out health insurance earlier in life by rewarding them with the lowest base rate premium, and imposing an age loading on those who take out health insurance later in life. (www.medicareaustralia.gov.au accessed: 30 Nov 2011).
What can private health offer that Medicare can't?
Choice of hospital and choice of doctor
With Medicare, you can access free treatment as a public patient at a public hospital, and you'll be treated by whichever medical personnel is available at the time of your treatment. However, with private health care, you can choose the hospital you want to be treated at (including private hospitals) and the doctor who treats you. This will ensure continuity of care. You are also far more likely to have your own room while you recover.
Cut down waiting times
Unfortunately, the public Medicare system is often overcrowded and suffers from a lack of beds and lengthy waiting periods for surgical procedures.
With the private health system, you are more likely to be admitted and treated faster, and have more flexibility in scheduling elective surgery.
More than just hospital treatment
While Medicare generally covers treatment in hospital and a few other services like x-rays and eye tests, private health care offers a far greater choice of ancillary services.
With private health care, you can get benefits for treatment like dental, physio, chiro, remedial massage and more - services you can use every day to keep you and your family healthy.
Why take out private health insurance?
There are obvious benefits to private health care, but these advantages do come with a cost. To access the private health system yourself, it could cost thousands at a time you could ill afford it. That's where private health insurance comes in. Don't let a trip to the hospital or bad news from the doctor; leave you with thousands of dollars in medical bills.
By paying an affordable premium to the health fund of your choice, you can be covered for a large range of both hospital and ancillary (extras) benefits, so you know that you and your family are protected when you need it most.
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.