Private health insurance! On the list of pure adult things, it’s right up there with “consolidating your super,” and “not eating five-day old leftover bolognese that’s starting to smell like turds.”
Figuring what coverage you need, how much you’ll need to set aside for it, and what level of dumb stuff it’ll prevent you from having to sell a limb to cover is one of the most easily put-offable tasks you’re ever likely to encounter. But we all know that it’s pretty dang important, because the last thing you’ll wanna see if you ever do yourself a solid mischief is a hospital bill that’d make even the American medical system’s sphincter contract in horror.
PEDESTRIAN.TV spoke with Tom Godfrey from consumer advocacy group Choice, who have set up a whole new website called Do I Need Health Insurance that’ll help you sift through the jargon and mumbo jumbo to find the right policy for you. With Choice’s help, we’ve busted six of the biggest myths surrounding private health cover and you.
MYTH: Health insurance isn’t worth it if you have a pre-existing condition.
REALITY: “If you have a pre-existing, ongoing, condition you may wish to sign up to private health cover to provide different care options. However it’s important to check the how long the waiting period will be before cover kicks in, and whether you will have to pay any extra out of pocket expenses for private hospital treatment for that condition.”
MYTH: You need extras cover if you wear glasses or need dental surgery.
REALITY: “It’s useful to think of extras cover as a budgeting tool rather than health insurance. If the annual cost of your extras cover is more than the benefit the fund pays out, you’re probably better off paying for these services yourself and remember you can drop your extras cover without a tax penalty.”
MYTH: If you’re over 31, it’s better to get Private Health Cover now than later, and get slapped with Lifetime Health Cover loading.
REALITY: “If you’re under 31 and earning less than $90,000 a year ($180,000 as a couple) it’s a good idea to take the doineedhealthinsurance.com.au health check to see if you really need private health cover. There are valid reasons to take out health insurance, like skipping the queue for elective surgery or choosing your own doctor, but if you are just trying to avoid the LHC loading, you may want to think twice.”
MYTH: If you’re planning on getting pregnant, it’s best to have private health cover.
REALITY: “Australians who are planning on starting a family can access excellent pregnancy and obstetrics services for free in a public hospital. However if you want to choose your own obstetrician or give birth in a private hospital, may wish to sign up for private health cover with pregnancy services. Be aware that you will have to serve a waiting period before the obstetrics cover kicks in and you may incur out of pocket expenses.”
MYTH: If I get health insurance, it’ll automatically cover and pay for everything.
REALITY: “When you take out health insurance it’s really important to check what you’re covered for and what the out of pocket expenses are. There will be waiting periods for many services and depending on what you want done you could be left to cover the costs of a payment gap or an excess on your premium.”
MYTH: The added “bonuses” of private health cover (like discounts and gift cards) make private health cover worth it.
REALITY: “Businesses try all sorts of marketing tricks to get you to buy a product or service, but it’s really important not to get sucked into the hype. When considering taking out private health, look at your personal health needs and, if you’re a high income earner, whether there is a tax benefit to taking out cover. If you want a gift card, buy a gift card. If you want health insurance then take CHOICE’s quiz at DoIneedhealthinsurance.com.au and if you need a policy, be sure to compare options before signing on the dotted line.”