Healthcare for seniors
It is a fact of life − the older you are, the more you tend to experience health issues. While we would love to feel as invincible as we did back in our younger years, the truth is, if you are over 50, you are more likely to need ongoing health check-ups to make sure everything in the old machine is still working as expected!
While Australians are living longer and healthier lives than ever before, you just never know when an unexpected illness or other health issue will creep up on you. It is therefore worth considering what options you have to protect yourself against the cost of health-related treatments and hospital visits.
There are varied ways to fund the cost of these such as:
- using personal savings;
- having health insurance; or
- going through our bulk-billed Medicare system.
The lowest cost option is going through the Medicare system, but there are some limitations to going down this route. While Medicare is government funded and thus lower cost (and in some cases free if the treatment is bulk-billed), there are a number of costs that are not covered by Medicare such as the cost of staying and receiving treatment in a private hospital, ambulance services (in NSW), and out of hospital treatments (typically known as ‘extras’) such as dental, optical, physiotherapy, etc. Many specialists also do not bulk-bill, so in some cases, if you need to see a specialist for say your kidney or lungs, you may be asked to be a pay, which can be expensive.
You can also use your personal savings to fund healthcare costs if your treatment or procedure is not Medicare funded or partially funded. However, this is generally not an option for expensive treatment like major surgery or treating chronic diseases, as many people simply do not have thousands of dollars saved up to pay.
The third option is having private health insurance, which, like other forms of insurance, means you pay a premium and depending on your level of cover, the cost of your treatment and/or hospital stay may be partly funded by your health insurance provider and you may be required to pay the rest (typically known as the ‘gap’ fee).
Some advantages of private health insurance are:
- being able to choose your own doctor or treating specialist;
- being able to get treatment relatively quickly compared to potential long waiting lists via the public health system;
- having more choices in the treatment you receive;
- being able to add the cost of ‘extras’ like dental and optical, and ambulance cover (that are not covered by Medicare) to your policy as either a standalone policy or combined with your hospital cover;
- having your own private room in a private hospital;
- being eligible to be exempt from paying the Medicare levy surcharge if you have private hospital cover (if you are still working and earn between $90,000 for singles and $180,000 for families); and
- being eligible for the private health insurance rebate which may reduce your premiums (depending on your income).
Of course, the above options are not mutually exclusive. You can use a combination of personal savings, Medicare and/or private health insurance to fund your healthcare costs, depending on the cost of treatment and your own preferences.
Advances in medicine and hospital treatments mean we can live longer, healthier lives, but they can come at a cost. It is important to be prepared in case you cannot go through the Medicare system for urgent treatment or you do not have enough savings to pay for your hospital costs upfront.
Seniors Health Insurance coming soon
While Australians are living longer and healthier lives than ever before, it is important to have a plan in place to help protect yourself against the cost of health-related treatments and hospital visits.
Find out more about Australian Seniors’ new health insurance product by registering your interest today.