There are some key differences between public and private health coverage in Australia, such as where you are treated, medical providers, and how long it takes to treat non-emergency conditions. Public health care covers many basic services and costs. However, Australians are limited in their options when they rely only on public health care. Private health coverage gives citizens the option to choose hospitals and doctors, and it helps pay for medical services not covered by the Medicare plan.
In 1984, Australia began offering citizens and permanent residents public health coverage. The government-sponsored Medicare plan offers coverage for a large proportion of basic medical costs. Australia’s public health care is primarily funded through a tax or “Medicare levy” as part of basic tax payments. There are many advantages to the Australian health care system, and it is often touted as one of the best public systems in the world. However, it doesn’t cover all treatments, and patients often have lengthy hospital wait times. As a result, many Australians have turned to private coverage. If you are looking at private health insurance, there are some things to consider. With private health cover, you’re able to select your doctor and seek treatment at a private hospital. Private coverage can also supplement Medicare and pay costs for specialized medical treatments. Let’s consider some of the things you need to look for when purchasing private health coverage.
Choice of Physicians and Hospitals
One of the drawbacks that many Australians find with public coverage is the inability to choose between different hospitals and doctors. When you select a private health insurer, you’ll want to ensure that your hospital cover allows you to select your own doctor and hospital. You will want to ensure that your plan will pay for any private doctor’s fees and hospital expenses. Fees such as hospital accommodation and surgery fees should be covered whether you are being treated in a private hospital or as a private patient in a public hospital. One of the biggest benefits of selecting a private cover is the ability to choose your own care and avoid long wait times at public hospitals. Ensure that your health insurance coverage will give you treatment and facility options.
Needed Additional Coverages
Australians who rely solely on public health insurance coverage have some access to other services, including eye tests, limited dental treatments, and some prescription drugs. If these kinds of coverage are important to you and your family, you should look for private insurers that cover things like dental treatment, hearing aids, and glasses. You can find a plan that covers general and major dental, endodontic, orthodontic, non-PBS pharmaceutical, optical, psychology, physiotherapy, and podiatry care. If you are planning on starting a family or having more children, you might consider an insurance plan that has more comprehensive maternity care beyond the basic coverages of Medicare. Be sure to check for any waiting periods imposed by the health insurer.
In most cases, public Medicare doesn’t cover ambulance services. Ambulance transportation is covered locally with a subsidy in a few states and territories. In general, however, a private health insurance plan is needed to cover emergency transportation. When you select private health care coverage, you’ll want to ensure that it will pay for the cost of an ambulance. You will want to take note that some policies might not pay if medics are called to a scene but do not transport you. Some plans cover this fee while others do not, so you should carefully consider the details of the ambulance cover in your policy.
For many Australians, public Medicare insurance might not provide enough coverage. If this is the case for your family, you’ll need to consider a private health insurance plan. To find the right option for your needs, you should evaluate the monthly premium and coverages offered.