Health Insurance Blog Health Insurance Made Simple


Best Primary Care Providers for Musculoskeletal Pain


Back, neck and other chronic pain are irritating ailments that no one wants to suffer through. Choosing the best healthcare professional for musculoskeletal complaints can be confusing, as Osteopaths, Chiropractors and Physiotherapists all seem to tackle the same issues. Importantly, they are all Primary Care Providers, which means they are accessible without a referral, and are usually covered by private health insurance. Finding the best fit for you, and your insurance, can be hard, so here is a breakdown of the differences between them.

Chiropractors are focused on bones, which they manipulate using Chiropractic adjustments to guarantee everything is in its right place. This can have a positive effect on shoulders, hips and various joint complaints. Chiropractic adjustments make changes in the body, usually by direct physical contact with various problem areas. The Chiropractic approach is great if the issue or injury is related to the dysfunction of joints and bones, which can get caught out of place. If the injury involves muscles to a serious degree, consider Osteopathy or Physiotherapy

Osteopaths are trained to understand and manipulate not just bones, but muscles as well. A good Osteopath will have an excellent understanding of pressure points, muscles spasms, and musculoskeletal issues in general. They use methods of message, Osteopathic adjustments and pressure points to treat complaints. Most importantly, a good one will know how to work gently. Osteopathy is all about the right level of pressure, at the right place.

Physiotherapists are usually oriented towards recovery from trauma and often work in hospitals as part of physical rehabilitation after serious injury. They take a holistic approach to treat injuries and chronic health conditions. They are specialists at helping people adapt after injury and change their lifestyles. They use exercise regimes, acupuncture, and various other methods that are tailored to the individual person.

For treating pain, the most important thing is to see a professional who is registered with the official associations of each practice. This will ensure correct diagnosis, and professional quality service.

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How To Look After Your General Health


When it comes to your health, nothing really tops it in our list of priorities. Whether it’s a general check up with the doctor, healthy lifestyle choices or just being aware of what is normal and what is not with your body, it’s important to know about your health. There are a lot of people – predominantly young – that think health isn’t an issue for them. They’re invincible; they can do what they want, eat what they want and run on empty for weeks. And they’ll think nothing of it. But the ways you treat your body are directly reflected in the state of your health. It may not be obvious at first, but the things we do to our bodies are what we’re doing to our health. So we’ve put together some hot tips on how to stay healthy and look after yourself. It might not seem like rocket science, but it has rocket style benefits for your health.

1. Get some sleep: It might seem like the oldest (and easiest) trick in the book, but you’d be surprised just how many of you are lacking a healthy amount of snooze time. While we may not often think about why we sleep, most of us acknowledge at some level that sleep makes us feel better. We feel more alert, more energetic, happier, and better able to function following a good night of sleep. Sleep requirements will vary slightly from person to person, but most healthy adults need between seven and a half to nine hours of sleep per night to function at their best. So make sure you’re catching enough of those Z’s!
2. Eat your greens: Your grandmother told you, your mother told you, and now we’re telling you! In order to feel good, look after your general health and make sure you’re always performing to your best potential, you need to fill your body with the right foods. Eating a diet rich in vegetables and fruits as part of an overall healthy diet may reduce risk for heart disease, including heart attack and stroke, not to mention cancer, obesity and type-2 diabetes. Make sure you’re getting plenty of dark leafy greens onto your plate – think kale, spinach, broccoli, bok choy and salad greens. Your body will thank you for it.
3. Get moving: It might be taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or vacuuming the house with a certain kind of zealous, but every bit counts! Moving your body on a regular basis – from intense exercise to casual strolls around the office – are vital for your body’s wellbeing and general health. According to Christopher Wharton, PhD, a certified personal trainer and researcher at Yale University, the more time spent exercising and the more vigorous the exercise, the more calories you will burn. So park your car at the back of the shopping centre or change your TV channels manually, because it all adds up to some seriously good side effects to your health.
4. Don’t freak out: Stress is one of those silent symptoms of poor health. It’s not a physical thing, and you can’t see it (unless you’re looking at those few extra stress lines in your forehead). When it comes to maintaining your general health, you need to focus on your mental health as well. Work, kids, studies – they all contribute to stress at some point, so why not take it as seriously as you would cancer or heart disease? Find ways that help you unwind, be it a walk along the beach, some meditation, or just a coffee catch up with your friends. When you can use tactics to battle stress, your overall health with be a lot better off.

General health and wellbeing is something we all too often take advantage of, and it’s time to take it more seriously. Whether it’s being careful of overworking ourselves, or just being more aware of what we put in our mouths, it all adds up to creating better general health. Find ways to improve your general health, and see how your body responds in all the right ways.


The Federal Budget, Health Insurance & An Election Year

Health is always an issue that the government, no matter which side they are from, use as a major element of every budget, especially in an election year, where promises to “buy votes” are common place (not to be cynical at all!)

So what did the Rudd government’s latest budget reveal in terms of Health Insurance? Read on to find out!

Budget Website, the government’s budget site, lists as the last point of its “Key elements” as:

“…funding historic reforms to the health system”.

But what exactly does that mean?

National Health and Hospitals Network

  • Total new investment of $7.3 billion over five years, and $23 billion over the rest of the decade
  • Additional $2.2 billion to meet the needs of our modern health system:
    • $355 million for GP Super Clinics
    • $417 million to enhance after hours services
    • $523 million to train our nurses
    • $467 million to introduce individual electronic health records

In many ways, this is a push for Health to be removed from the states' budgets, and added to the Federal budget.


The eHealth sector will receive $466.7 million over the next two years, to establish electronic health records for all Australians.

Australians will be able, through the proposed eHealth system, to securely check their medical history online, anytime and anywhere, and permit their healthcare providers to access their health information too.

The eHealth records will provide healthcare professionals with clear, quickly available information which will reduce medical errors, avoid unnecessary tests and save scarce health resources.

Federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon stated that the e-Health records “...will boost patient safety, improve health care delivery, and cut waste and duplication”.

It also reveals that as a result of the new e-Health record initiative “patients for the first time will be empowered with easy-to-access information about their medical history – including medications, test results and allergies – allowing them to make informed choices about their healthcare."

Privacy concerns aside, this is a fantastic initiative, and should have all the listed benefits, although the downside of privacy is certainly not something to scoff. In an age of FaceBook, though, one wonders if privacy matters to most these days.


A surprisingly subdued budget in an election year, with no real vote grabbing headliners in Health, and the $466.7 million eHealth initiative, although a good idea, is sure to meet with some resistance. This would seem to indicate that, for once, Health won't be a major election battleground, unless the Abbot’s opposition choose to make it an issue.


Health Insurance Basics

Saving money on health insurance is important, but the strategies to do so are not so obvious. Here are seven ways to control your health insurance costs:

  • Make sure you are familiar with all of the rules of your health insurance plan, and that you follow them. Your plan will have rules regarding pre-authorisation and provider networks. If you fail to adhere to these rules, you could find that you have little or no coverage available to you for your treatment. Do not make assumptions about the plan. Read your policy terms and ask questions of your plan’s representatives. Remember that a lack of information can cost you money.
  • You may be able to opt out of certain coverage features that you do not need. Mental health services, chiropractic services, and maternity stays are often not needed by everyone. In some states, health insurance companies are allowed to offer basic health insurance policies that include only mandated items of coverage. Choosing such a policy is a less expensive option.
  • If you are married, and both you and your spouse have health insurance, check each policy to see if spousal benefits are available. If so, you can eliminate the other one as coverage under spousal benefits is available to both the husband and the wife.
  • Be prepared for emergencies by becoming familiar with the full aspects of your health insurance coverage. If when an accident occurs you are familiar with which hospitals and physicians are included in your network, you will be in a better position to make confident decisions in an emergency. This information should be kept handy in case you need it quickly.
  • Saving money on prescription costs will help your overall health insurance strategy. Simple things that you can do include asking for free samples from your physician, using generic drugs, or investigating the availability of reduced cost medications. There are typically eligibility requirements for programs such as these as they are primarily designed for those with low income or no insurance coverage.
  • Do you have any bad habits? If you quit smoking you will become a more desirable candidate for insurance coverage. Smokers automatically pay higher premiums. You won’t see immediate results, as it may take about 3 years to qualify for better rates enjoyed by non smokers.
  • Exercise, and get fit. The obese will pay more premium than smokers, the aged, or alcoholics. Getting in shape will not only benefit your wallet, but will help you live longer and healthier. Healthy people experience less stress also.

NIB Launch April Fool’s Day Body Part Insurance

Insure my "Biggest" Asset? Oh My!

Insure my "Biggest" Asset? Oh My!

For a split second, they had me going, but it turns out that, no, I can't insure my beautiful smile:

Just Short of a Million Dollar Smile

Just Short of a Million Dollar Smile

It's all just a hideous joke, and here I am, left without insurance for my killer smile :(

April Fool's? Not fair Jan!

April Fool's? Not fair Jan!

Nice work NIB, at least someone has a sense of humour!


Should I get private health insurance?

Medicare, the Government health insurance system, provides Australians with universal healthcare cover. Available to all Australian citizens, Medicare provides access to free or low-cost services such as doctors, outpatient care, hospital care and some dental procedures. Permanent residents who are not Australian citizens may also can qualify for the scheme.

What private health insurance offers is greater choices about how your healthcare is administered, e.g. which hospital, doctor and type of accommodation. Private cover also often offers reimbursable extras such as glasses, massages and other items.

For severe ailments, however, even private patients are put back into the public health system. The private hospitals are generally just not well enough equipped to cope with critically ill patients and specialised emergency procedures. Examples of conditions that tend to be treated within the public system are head trauma, cancer, heart surgery, organ transplants, dialysis and other items. Private hospitals usually take care of conditions like childbirth, shoulder and knee reconstructions.

What does private health insurance cover?

Depending on the level of cover, private health insurance covers some or all of the expense of being treated as a private hospital patient in a public or private hospital.

Private hospital patients are charged for their accommodation, theatre fees, drug costs and doctors’ fees, as well as many other costs, but their insurance company will reimburse them for large portions of these costs.

In addition to hospital care, private health insurance can cover some or all of the costs for many medical services Medicare does not. These may include podiatry, chiropractic treatment, dental treatment and many other procedures. It can also cover more "wellbeing" options such as glasses and contacts, as well as some natural therapies and acupuncture.

For elective surgery (non-life threatening surgery) public system waiting lists can be very long, and private patients can book into the hospital of their choice, often a lot sooner than is possible for a public patient. An example might be elective knee or shoulder surgery.

Ultimately, the decision to go private is a very personal one and tends to depend on your household income, fitness obligations and whether you are carrying any injuries or experiencing any chronic health conditions. Most Australians would benefit from private medical insurance, and it is often a case of choosing the right plan rather than whether to choose it or not.


Health Insurance After 30

Different kinds of medical health cover are appropriate at different times of life. From 30 years of age, preventative activities take on more importance – such as gym memberships, massage, acupuncture and other “lifestyle” extras. Whilst these may not be important in your 20s, including them in your health insurance premiums after 30 becomes important.

If you have not "settled down" in your twenties, the thirties is a decade when most people are likely to start thinking about a family. It is also an age at which you are better able to afford more comprehensive health cover. The health insurers are keen to get the mid-20s to 30-somethings on board as, generally speaking, they are still fairly fit and healthy.

Compulsory private cover

As well as the extras and family considerations from age 30 there is another important aspect of health cover to be aware of. Over the age of 30, the Government charges a penalty if you do not have private health insurance. Each year a person is over 30 and without private health insurance, a two percent loading is added to the eventual cost of their premium – capped at a maximum of 70 percent. (People exempt from this penalty include those born before July 1, 1934.)

For more information visit, a Government website that explains this penalty system in greater detail.

Those who have purchased private health insurance before their 31st birthday, and maintain their cover, may be offered loyalty bonuses by their insurer for being a long-term customer. As well, the Australian Government rewards those who have had 10 years’ continuous private health insurance membership with the removal of the loading.

What’s it cost?

An average private health insurance policy, providing basic hospital cover and mid-range extras, can cost between $60 and $100 a month. Basic hospital cover often takes care of things like transportation in an ambulance, pregnancy and birth-related needs, major eye surgery and hip and knee joint replacements.

The top of the line benefit cover may include full cover for hospital accommodation, no excess on day surgery and night stays in hospital, and extras cover for optical, dental, orthodontic and chiropractic needs.

Sit down either alone or with your partner if you have one and identify your must-haves and nice-to-haves, or check back in with the Health Insurance blog to find checklists and other useful ways to reduce your bill.


Private Medical Health Insurance Benefits

One of the perks of having private health insurance is being treated as a private patient in any hospital. This usually means having your choice of doctor, hospital and treatment time.

And even better, you are likely to find that, when it comes to elective surgery (surgery for a non-life-threatening condition, like a knee reconstruction), you will have a shorter waiting period, as people with private medical insurance are given priority.

Basic Benefits

As a privately insured patient, there are attractive policy benefits (aka extras) to choose from. These can help reduce your day-to-day expenses for many common items like glasses, massage, dentistry and chiropractic treatments. Some providers also offer cover for natural therapies, although YMMV, so check your policy before assuming natural therapies are covered.


Health Insurance & Planning A Pregnancy

For those wanting to start a family, there is only one piece of advice to remember: get in early (pun fully intended).

Take out your cover well in advance of falling pregnant, as there are often penalties and fees early in your coverage. Most funds have a waiting period of at least two months before any cover actually begins and for pregnancy this waiting period is typically 12 months.

If you’re going to play it by the numbers, and you like a little risk, this means it would be wise to wait at least four months after buying your insurance before falling pregnant, so that your baby will arrive after the waiting period has concluded. Obviously, the less of a gambler you are, the longer you want to wait, as many babies are born premature.

If your timing is out, and you fall pregnant early, costs for medical care during your pregnancy may not be claimable – although the birth might well be. Check the fine print in your contract, and be smart about it. You may have health issues during your pregnancy that require special care, so better safe than sorry!


How To Save Money On Your Private Healthcare

With health insurance costs to rise an average 6% this year, families may struggle to find the extra $200 required for private health cover.

What options are there for people who want to save money in light of rising costs? Well there are a few:

Pay upfront - Avoid the April price increases and lock in the 2009 prices by paying your annual health insurance premium upfront. If you pay your entire 12 months upfront you lock in the prices that period, putting off the affects of an increase until next year (at which point you could lock in another 12 months)

Based on the average price rise across funds / products, this could equate to a saving of 5.78% over the year (a saving of around $170 for family cover)

Pay by Direct Debit – Many Companies offer a discount for paying premiums by Direct Debit. Nib give a 4% discount for direct debits paid from a cheque or savings account, ensuring that those who are not in the position to pay upfront can still take advantage of discounts and savings.

Shop Around – The average price increase is 5.78%, but some of the larger organizations have only increased their prices by 5.74%, whereas some smaller Companies have increased their premiums by a whopping 7%. Always check the level of cover you are receiving and shop around for an even better deal. By combining this with the other tips above, you could be saving big time!