Australians are lucky when it comes to health care. When illness or injury strikes, there is no question regarding your access to health care, whether or not you own private health insurance.
The Australian government guarantees that everyone is entitled to Medicare to help cover many medical needs; but few people realize what the limits of their Medicare coverage are, and where private health cover fits into the equation.
When you don’t have a solid understanding of the difference between what Medicare covers and what your health insurance covers, it’s difficult to make the best decisions for yourself and your family when it comes to planning for the future and protecting your finances if an unexpected illness or injury disrupts your lives. By comparing health plans, you can get a better idea of how much private health coverage actually costs, and what it can do for you.
Who needs private health coverage? Doesn’t Medicare cover all of your health insurance needs? What if you’re a young couple or family with no reason to worry about health issues?
It’s important to start by understanding how Medicare works, and what coverage it does and does not provide.
Medicare was introduced in Australia in 1984 as the country’s public health cover system, guaranteeing access to free or low-cost medical and hospital care for every Australian citizen and permanent resident.
The Medicare system offers access to a public hospital and treatment by a hospital appointed physician. While Australians receive excellent care through the Medicare system, there are little to no options when it comes to selecting the hospital in which you will be treated, or even when you will be admitted.
Under Australia’s Medicare program, any treatment that does not fall into the “emergency” category is considered to be elective, which places patients on a long public hospital waiting list to be seen.
Australians can improve their health care situation by purchasing private health cover to augment Medicare, which you retain even when your private health plan takes effect. When your health insurance strategy includes a private policy in addition to Medicare benefits, you have the option to choose treatment as either a private or public patient in a private or public hospital. The decision is up to you.
People with private health coverage earn choice and flexibility when it comes to their own care. Your health insurance allows you to choose the physician or specialist responsible for your treatment, the schedule for admission to the hospital for treatment, and quicker access to any elective surgery you may be having.
Your insurance will cover most if not all of those costs that Medicare does not pay, and you can avoid waiting on a public hospital list for the treatment you need.
It’s important to check with your insurer and read your policy details before you schedule a hospital stay to be sure your health insurance covers your particular procedure.
When it comes to receiving treatment outside of a hospital, Medicare will cover 100 percent of the cost to visit a general practitioner, specialist, or medical center. In fact, your private health plan cannot by law pay for costs incurred when visiting a physician or specialist outside of a hospital.