Do You Need Private Health Insurance In Australia?
Especially in recent times, a lot of people have been asking, “Do you really need private health insurance in Australia”? We are known globally for our great Medicare public health care system – even Billy Explores uses Medicare funded doctors to give me check ups before I head on my expeditions! Of course, there are both advantages and disadvantages to both systems. It helps to have all the information before you make a decision to compare private health insurance providers, or whether just to stay with the public Medicare system. Thankfully we have managed to pull together a handy guide, ready to help you! Read on to find out more if you really need private health insurance in Australia!
What is Private Health Insurance?
Before we can answer that question of whether you really need health insurance in Australia, we need to understand what private health insurance cover actually is. Health insurance protects you against unexpected costs associated with illness or medical treatment. You’ll be covered for all or part of certain medical expenses, depending on the level of cover you choose. You can choose to have both hospital cover and extras cover, or just hospital cover in your policy. You also have the option of individual health insurance cover, or family health insurance cover. Of course, you should always compare health insurance policies to make sure they fit your particular situation.
Public vs Private Health Insurance – What is the difference?
As we mentioned previously, Australia is very lucky to have a great public health system which is funded under the Medicare system. This means that Aussies can be treated for a lot of healthcare issues. Some healthcare costs – such as a visit to your GP or an X-ray in hospital –can also be covered or partly covered by Medicare through the public health system, depending on your circumstances. Private health insurance covers people for certain medical or hospital expenses that aren’t covered by Medicare, or where the patient chooses to be treated privately. Of course, there are both advantages and disadvantages of both systems – so it pays to compare private health insurance vs public system before you make your decision. Of course, you can also compare the types of health insurance from our panel of providers through Billy Explores too!
What is Health Insurance Extras Cover?
A key difference when you want to compare private health insurance vs the Medicare system, is that you can choose extras cover. It covers smaller medical expenses not covered under your general hospital cover. As with hospital cover, health insurance providers will offer different levels of extras cover, and it will include items such as:
- Dental treatment
- Optical (such as glasses or contact lenses)
- Medical equipment/appliances
- Alternative and Natural therapies (acupuncture, naturopathy)
- Chiropractic treatment
- Pharmaceuticals not covered by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme
- Gym memberships and other health programs
If you know you are going to use a lot of these services, it’s a great idea to have the appropriate services covered under your health insurance extras – these extra aren’t’ covered under general medicare. Just make sure you check out any stipulations such waiting periods.
What Are Some Advantages of Private Health Insurance?
Depending on your policy, private health insurance pays some or all of the costs of:
- treatment in public or private hospitals as a private patient with the doctor of your choice
- health services that are not covered under Medicare such as physiotherapy, dental and optical.
Private health insurance might also help you access some hospital services more quickly.
You can also pay less tax by not paying the medicare levy surcharge, and can avoid paying more for cover when you’re older through the Lifetime Health Cover loading system.
What Are Some Disadvantages of Private Health Insurance?
While there are many benefits to private health insurance, there are also some disadvantages. For example, the cost can be quite expensive, especially when you’re feeling you aren’t getting any value for money from your policy (of course, you can always compare health insurance through Billy Explores here to see if you can get a better deal from our panel of providers)! Also, some treatments may be excluded if you end up in hospital as well as you still have to pay any out-of-pocket costs. It pays to check the fineprint of your health insurance policy and make sure you have the right type of health insurance.
What Can Happen If You Don’t Have Private Health Insurance?
While you will still be covered to have any procedures in the Medicare public health system, you will probably face a long wait time and will have to have your procedure in a public hospital. This can quite often lead to longer wait times for say elective surgery. In 2018-19, 890,000 patients were added to public hospital elective surgery waiting lists during, while only 760,000 patients were admitted for their surgery in the same period (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW)).
You will also pay more tax through the Australia Government’s Medicare Levy Surcharge if you don’t have private health insurance, and you will also pay more for your health insurance premiums down the track through the Lifetime Health Cover loading.
Private Health Insurance vs Medicare Public System
Well, now you know some of the advantages and disadvantages of private health insurance and the public Medicare system, so it’s time to compare private health insurance options through our panel of providers! It’s better to have the security of knowing you will be covered if the unexpected happens. Billy Explores wants to make sure we have as many Aussies covered with the right type of health insurance for them – so get comparing today!