When it comes to finding the right health insurance coverage for you and your loved ones, it may be tempting as an Australian to stay on board with Medicare. However, there are certain things that Medicare just can’t cover that could end up making a deep impact on your pocket in the event of a medical emergency.
Here are a few reasons that you may want to get private insurance coverage through a health insurer to expand your safety net.
Choosing Your Care Team
One of the greatest benefits of a private health insurance policy is choice and flexibility. With a private insurance company, you’re allowed to choose your doctor, your hospital, and even have control over the time of your appointments, something that a public system patient doesn’t have the luxury of under their insurance plan. This is a tremendous asset in the COVID-19 pandemic, with limits on in-person visits brought on by social distancing and other protocols.
Additionally, private insurance policies provide financial cover for health services that Medicare does not. This includes physiotherapy, optical, and dental health care coverage.
Typically, there are two health insurance plans that a person can take out to give themselves this additional protection: hospital cover and extras cover. Hospital cover takes care of the remaining 25% of costs that a Medicare policy does not for things like:
- Hospital accommodation
- Intensive care
- Diagnostic tests
Extras cover prevents any out-of-pocket costs brought on by seeing a specialist or needing to undergo certain medical testing not covered under Medicare health coverage.
Avoiding the Medicare Levy Surcharge
Most Australians who can afford private health insurance coverage are encouraged to do so to put less pressure on the nation’s public health care system. That is why certain patients are charged the Medicare Levy Surcharge, or MLS, a rate that is levied on an individual or family’s taxable household income. The base income threshold is $90,000 for singles and $180,000 for families.
This encourages patients that can afford private health insurance to do just that, purchase a private policy. The government seeks to have these patients evaluate the coverage options in the marketplace. However, it is important to understand that you must purchase a hospital cover to have this surcharge waived. Buying an extras cover without hospital cover will not exempt you.
Others may be exempt from the Medicare Levy Surcharge, including:
- Those not entitled to public health care benefits
- Those who hold foreign residency for tax purposes
- Blind pensioners
- Those holding sickness allowance from Centrelink
- Those receiving medical service on a Veterans’ Affairs Repatriation Health Card
Expanding Your Treatment Options
With private health insurance coverage, you can not only expand your options for your care team, but you also have more opportunities to discover treatment options to combat illness or just protect your overall wellness. When it comes to pharmaceuticals, certain medications at your pharmacy are not covered by Medicare under their prescription drug plan. You may be able to arrange for your private health insurance to cover the cost of these drugs, depending on your level of cover.
You may be able to explore alternatives to prescription medications. Some patients have found the benefits of CBD products, containing cannabidiol, a chemical compound in hemp that is associated with the relaxing properties of the plant without the psychoactive agent, THC, which brings on the “high.”
Products like a CBD muscle rub or a proprietary blend of essential oils provide an instant cooling sensation that helps to reduce inflammation and tenderness throughout the body. Other CBD products like lotion, moisturizers, and even edibles have helped some users with pain relief. That’s why within this next year, it may be worth it to explore a private health plan to open up a wider array of health care to explore.