Health Insurance Blog Health Insurance Made Simple

31Dec/090

Hospital Care

One of the benefits of private health insurance is the opportunity to select your choice of hospital but how much do you actually know about them?

A recent debate has highlighted the need to make information about hospital performance available to the public, especially information about preventable complications occurring during hospital care.

In America, health insurance companies may not pay extra costs for serious complications which the hospital could have prevented such as objects left in a patient after surgery, air embolisms and serious hospital infections, labelling these as “never events” that is, events that should never occur in a competent hospital facility. This system of transparency has been introduced in New York. The scheme holds hospitals accountable, in turn assisting to improve medical services.

This concept is new in the US but there’s no doubt the focus to improve quality and safety as well as keeping costs down will be prevalent for both the Australian public and private health care systems. As a potential or would-be patient with private health insurance, equipped with the choice of hospital, wouldn't you prefer a system of transparency? Let us know what you think.

29Dec/090

Healthy Start to 2010

The holiday season is a time of celebration, a chance to bid farewell to the year that was and welcome the year that will be. Everyone knows Christmas is all about overindulgence – a time to relax and party with friends and family; whereas New Years is the time to consider the course of action for the next 12 months; thus the perfect time to make New Year Resolutions.

The most popular resolutions that make the list every year relate to wealth and health and well-being: To manage money better and to become healthier in the New Year is important to most people. Naturally, it comes back to Health Insurance. Whether you make the decision to take more control of your money or be eat or live healthier, these lifestyle changes can be reflected in your health insurance policy.

Thinking forward for 2010 you should review your health insurance options, it’s an opportunity to make the changes you’ve considering. Here are a few simple items to help you approach Private Health Insurance in 2010, thinking about how you invest your money and your dedication to your health and your family’s health.

1. Identify what you need

There are many health insurance products on the market, identify what is still important to you. Ask yourself:

  • What is my current cover, is it still relevant?
  • Do I want hospital cover, extras cover or both?
  • What are the inclusions that I “must” have?
  • Do I want basic, medium or full cover?
  • How much can I afford to pay up-front as a premium?
  • Am I prepared to pay an excess or co-payments in exchange for a lower premium?

3. Seek advice

Consult with friends and family in similar circumstances to you. Their experience is important as they may highlight some issues that you did not think of. Reflect on the previous year, are you getting the most out of your current cover or do you need to 'trim' down? Balance this personal experience with expert advice. Seek information from your doctor about your medical history and possible risk factors that can affect your health in the future. Their advice is important as they have a documented account of your health.

2. Identify options to match your needs

Health insurance products are designed with a wide population in mind. More often than not these packages may offer a full range of inclusions which may not be appropriate for you. Remember, more inclusions may mean higher premiums so you may be paying what you don’t need. So take a closer look and identify those that are relevant to you matching your individual needs.

4. Research

Once you understand what you need, it’s time to research health cover options. Remember, planning now saves you time and money later. As with any investment, look at benefits vs. cost. Each health fund has its own unique suite of programs, rewards and discounts, identify a suite that reflects your lifestyle but also meets your budgetary requirement.

Begin the year with a healthy start, devise your health insurance plan for 2010.

18Dec/090

Comparing Australian Health Insurance Cover

Research shows there are many triggers that lead us to buy a health insurance policy.

These include:

  • Having a Baby
  • Getting Married
  • Moving out of your parents house
  • Retirement

I recently got married and tried to compare Health Insurance Covers and it’s really difficult to make a true cost/benefit ration of competing health funds. What I did find interesting though was that contrary to my expectations there are no savings by moving from a singles Health Insurance Policy to a Couples Health Insurance Policy. In fact, when I visited a local Health Fund they indicated that Couples Health Cover was developed decades ago with benefits back then but regulatory changes have since minimised this benefit.

Based on this I decided to pull out two singles cover for added flexibility.

The next area to look at is whether you want Hospital & Extras Cover or Just Hospital Cover. The way I see it, Hospital Cover is your insurance policy just in case something unexpected occurs (and this is your safety blanket) rather like car insurance. Extra’s insurance on the other hand is something you will use regularly and based on some costings for me and my wife, I ended up ahead overall by having this cover.

Therefore, I felt that for me and my partner hospital & Extras is the best option offering good value (in terms of the amount we could claim on yearly) while providing a safety net if we really did get sick/injured.

In later posts I will go through a few of the hospital and extra’s policies in more detail as there seem to be some complicated models (ie Medibank).

17Dec/090

Extreme Weather brings on the Unwanted Sniffles

The second half of the previous post was postponed due to an unexpected bout of sneezes and coughs, brought on by the extreme weather. With temperatures reaching up to 40 degrees yesterday, it can’t be good for the immune system. I say buckle up for the unpredictable weather to come as it will definitely have an affect our health and our daily activities.

This brings us to the next topic, the benefits of health insurance and why it’s worth thinking about (especially when you feel sick as a dog)

Let’s begin with the basics, when considering private health insurance, you automatically think of three types: Hospital, Ambulance and Extras.

Hospital Coverage may include accommodation, theatre fees, intensive care, drugs, dressings, and other consumables, pharmaceuticals and medical services.

Ambulance Coverage may include transport costs (road, air or sea) and any paramedic treatment.

Extras may include cost for dental, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy and acupuncture.

Although distinct, these types often overlap. You’ll find that most health insurers offer combined policies that cover health services across the board. The key is to find the combination that works for you; alternatively you may wish to be more selective in your approach, purchasing extras only. It really depends on your lifestyle, who you want to cover (singles, couples, family etc), your age, and other variables…

With more details soon to come (i.e. scenarios that might be relevant to you), the purpose of this post is to simply highlight the fact that purchasing health insurance is a way of ensuring peace of mind. Even if you live a healthy lifestyle, have no history of serious illness or have no family to worry about, health insurance is a security that is necessary in this day and age. In most instances, basic coverage will provide you with the following benefits:

  • Choice of doctor
  • Choice of hospital
  • Control over waiting times, when and where you’ll be treated
  • Helps with cost of services not provided by Medicare

Now that you’ve got the basics of health insurance, we'll follow up with more tips, scenarios and facts to help you along the way. Happy Hunting.

14Dec/090

User Pays, User Benefits

The private health care system works together with the public system to provide taxpayers with affordable health care services. Put simply, it assists with meeting the costs of health services that is not covered by the public system. Private hospital cover, dental, optical, physiotherapy and podiatry, you name it, there’s a health insurance fund in Australia that meets your needs.

To comprehend how far the public system stretches, here’s an overview of how it works…

PUBLIC

The public system in Australia comprises of three national subsidy schemes, the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme  (PBS), 30% Private Health Insurance Rebate and most commonly known, Medicare.

The Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) subsidises the cost of a wide range of prescription medicine. All Australian residents, and eligible overseas visitors, are provided with access to affordable medicine through the PBS.

The 30% private health insurance rebate eases the pressure on public hospitals by providing a subsidy to private health insurance policies of 30% for people under 65, 35% for people aged 65-69, and 40% for people aged 70 and over.

Medicare is owned and operated by the Australian Government and is funded by Australian tax payers. Medicare provides benefits for doctor consultation fees, tests and examinations, some X-rays and pathology tests, eye tests performed by optometrists, most surgical procedures performed by doctors.

Medicare doesn’t cover:

  • private patient hospital costs (for example, theatre fees or accommodation)
  • dental examinations and treatment
  • ambulance services
  • home nursing
  • physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, eye therapy, chiropractic services, podiatry
  • psychology (unless as part of a agreed procedure referred by your GP, psychiatrist or paediatrician)
  • acupuncture (unless part of a doctor's consultation)
  • glasses and contact lenses

PRIVATE

Private health insurance operates in a ‘user pays’ basis, where groups or individuals pay premiums to protect themselves from expensive or unforeseen health care costs. As sugested, private health insurance takes off the pressure of the public system.

And more to come on Wednesday...

2Dec/091

What the Health Insurance Blog is all about!

Health insurance is a confusing topic!

Have you ever wondered when you should take out health insurance to minimise your tax over that year?

Or what the difference is between the USA and Australia Medical Insurance industry and why it’s getting so much publicity in America?

Our blog will focus on providing Australian's like yourself with answers and advice on these topics. We will look into topics such as what Medicare does and doesn’t cover and the benefits of having a private/public hospital system.

If you have or are considering joining a Health Insurance fund, we recommend you subscribe to the RSS feed to our blog to get the latest updates and facts on the industry.

You can even post topics on each of our posts about questions you may have about Health Insurance Australian system and we will blog the answer.

We look forward to educating and updating you in the future!