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Here’s what you need to know about buying a private health cover

Source: AAP Image/Mick Tsikas

Private health insurance helps people avoid long wait times for non-urgent procedures and lets them access services that Medicare does not cover. But out of pocket costs may be a deterrent for many people to use it to pay for their medical costs.

Medicare covers costs such as GP visits, treatment and accommodation in public hospitals and most prescription medications under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

Besides Australian citizens and permanent residents, Medicare is also available to some eligible temporary visa holders, such as those on partner, protection and skilled regional sponsored visas.


 

Highlights 

  • A private health insurance cover also gives the patient the option to be treated by a doctor of their choice
  • Not all people buy private health insurance because they need it but many do so to avoid paying Medicare levy surcharge.  
  • Professor  Yuting Zhang of Melbourne University says when it comes to deciding whether or not to buy private health insurance, he suggests assessing the value of the cover if you need to use it.

 

However, Medicare doesn’t cover services like ambulance, eyeglasses or contact lenses, osteopathy etc.

Milosh Milisavljevic senior executive of customer strategy and portfolio at Medibank, says the role of private health is to give options to Australians and take pressure off the public health system.

“There’s over 13 million Australians that hold private health cover. So that’s roughly 53% of the country has private health insurance. And 44% Australians have hospital cover. So roughly a third might expect to consume or access the hospital system. And then the vast majority of our customers access some sort of extras cover or allied health and that’s your dentist, optical cover, physio and that’s usually with the view of preventative health as well as taking care of various minor health issues. And that I think will be consistent across the health industry.”

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