None of us likes to think about getting sick, and we certainly don’t plan to get sick or have accidents. But the chances are these things will happen to most of us in our lives, and the number one reason to get health insurance is to cope with the often-enormous costs that health treatments now involve.
Medical treatment has become progressively more expensive over our lifetimes. The cost of healthcare has risen faster than inflation for over a decade, and ironically, the impact of new technologies, procedures and drugs – all of which help us live longer and healthier lives – is also to keep pushing costs up. While Australia has a generous medical safety net and a strong public hospital system, costs are being pushed back from the taxpayer to individual patients. For some procedures, the costs run into tens of thousands, and if you don’t get health insurance, you could have to fund things out of your own pocket.
There are also tax, and cost, reasons to get health insurance. If you don’t get health insurance by the time you turn 31, every year you wait after that will cost you more – the concept of Lifetime Health Cover (LHC) means that your premium will be increased by 2 percent for every year past the age of 31 when you don’t have private health insurance. There are also tax rebates for most income earners that reduce the cost of private health insurance by 30 percent.
You can get health insurance via a simple online comparison and application at RateCity with one of our participating health funds. Because health insurance is “community-rated”, health funds are not able to deny you coverage on the basis of medical history or the likelihood you will claim. In turn, this actually means that the number of questions you answer to get health insurance in Australia is less than you’d need to get car insurance, for example!
There are some important restrictions to keep in mind when you get health insurance. These restrictions tend to mean that either the total cost of some services isn’t covered. You may have to pay some of the total bill yourself – this is known as the “gap”, and before you get health insurance from a particular fund, it’s worth finding out how extensive their agreements are with particular hospitals and doctors to cover gap payments.