Seniors Health Insurance

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Do you need Seniors Health Insurance? Before you make a decision, here’s a complete overview of all the pros and cons to help guide you.

You’re over 50 and it's becoming more apparent that looking after your own health is a top priority. Maybe your children have flown the nest and started to build families of their own. Or maybe you’re at the height of your career, thinking about retirement or already enjoying the freedom of not having to go into the office.

Being more susceptible to a range of health risks is one of the downsides of ageing. You may already have health insurance, but the policy you took out when you were first entering the workforce or raising a family no longer suit your needs.

Health insurance for Australian seniors are policies tailored specifically to meet your current and future health needs without having to pay for things you don’t need.

Why pay for obstetrics when having more children isn’t on the cards? And why miss out on treatments you’re more likely to need like cardiac-related procedures, palliative care or hospital accommodation in a private room? You may even have a chronic condition, such as arthritis, that could be better managed with a specialist in the private system.

The last thing you want to do is worry about not being able to pay for the costs of future medical treatment you may need. Chances are you want to enjoy the later years of your life with the peace of mind that your health needs will be well looked after without financial burden.

Reviewing your current health needs to find what’s best for you

Now’s as good a time as any to review your health insurance policy or consider taking out seniors cover that’s tailored to you. However, choosing the best and affordable health insurance for seniors can be overwhelming.

That’s why we have put together the following information to provide you with the simple facts you need to make an informed decision. After reading our guide, you’ll feel confident you can find the best policy for you. If you think you’ve got a pretty good handle on the basics of health insurance, you can always get started with comparing your options.

In just a few minutes, our comparison tool will provide you with a range of options from health insurance providers.

Why do Seniors take out Private Health Insurance?

You might be thinking at your age it’s too late to benefit significantly from private health insurance. When you’re nearing retirement or downsizing your home, managing your money becomes a priority, so why should you pay for health insurance, especially if you’ve lived a healthy life thus far?

The reality is, now’s the time you may need private health insurance the most as one of the downsides of getting older is that you’re more susceptible to a range of health issues.

While keeping active, consuming a wholesome diet and living a healthy lifestyle will help reduce your health risks, there’s no guarantees. As a general rule of thumb, the older you are, the more likely you’re going to need medical treatment for an injury, illness or another health complaint. This could end up costing you thousands in out-of-pocket expenses you could be putting to better use like a road trip around Australia or a tropical island getaway.

There are other reasons to consider over 50s health insurance plans, including:

Medicare doesn’t cover everything

While Australia has a great public health system, Medicare doesn’t provide the comprehensive level of cover you may need as a senior. Also, you may not get to choose the doctor or surgeon you want.

Government rebates

Private health cover is more affordable with seniors over 70 receiving a higher level of government rebates than younger Australians.

Specially designed to meet your needs

Health insurance for seniors over 70 caters for the unique needs of older Australians. Rather than paying for pregnancy services, you’ll be covered for medical treatments that might be a necessity like cardiac or spinal procedures.

Skip the waiting lists

The last thing you want as a senior is to be placed on a lengthy waiting list to receive treatment. With the right private health cover, you can skip the public waiting lists and get back to enjoying your life of retirement.

Preventative treatment options

Depending on your level of cover, you could take advantage of some of the many preventative therapies to help you maintain your health and quality of life. Treatments such as physiotherapy, chiro or alternative therapies like naturopathy or aromatherapy can help you keep in shape for longer.

Ample choice

A competitive private health insurance industry means there are plenty of cover options for consumers to choose from. You’ll be able to compare the policies from health funds who all aim to provide you with the best benefits for your health needs.

Understanding the different types of cover and what you get

Like other insurance policies, as a senior you can choose from the most comprehensive cover to affordable or basic health insurance. These policies can include Hospital cover, Hospital and Extras Cover or an Extras Only policy depending on your needs.

A good value seniors policy will cover all the common health conditions that affect seniors. Some of these benefits won’t be covered under a standard policy for a younger individual.

A typical seniors health insurance policy for Hospital Cover may include the following benefits:

  • Ambulance transportation
  • Hospital accommodation in a private or shared room of a public or private hospital
  • Theatre fees
  • Intensive care fees
  • Visits to the emergency department
  • X-rays, MRI, CAT scan
  • Pathology tests (e.g. blood tests)
  • Cardiothoracic surgery (heart, lungs, and chest)
  • Other surgeries and procedures (e.g. colonoscopy, cancer treatment, spinal back surgery, hernia repair, renal dialysis, stroke treatments)
  • In-patient pharmaceutical medications
  • Non-cosmetic eye surgery such as cataract removal surgery
  • Prostheses (e.g. hip replacement)
  • Joint replacement
  • Bone marrow transplant
  • Organ transplant
  • In-patient psychiatric treatment
  • Gap cover for visits to your GP
  • Palliative care

A seniors health insurance policy that includes Extras Cover may include the following benefits:

  • Optical (glasses, reading glasses, contact lenses)
  • Dental (check-up, clean and scale, crowns and bridges, root canal, tooth extraction, dentures)
  • Chiropractic
  • Physiotherapy
  • Osteopathy
  • Hearing aids
  • Podiatry (orthotics, bunions, feet cleaning, toenail clipping)
  • Remedial massage
  • Psychology consultations
  • Blood pressure monitors
  • Non-PBS prescription medications
  • Occupational therapy to help cope with daily tasks

When’s the best time for over 50’s review their health insurance policy?

If you already have health insurance and it’s been a while since you updated it, now’s the best time to review your policy. If you decide to switch to health insurance with a lower level of cover, you may need to re-serve waiting periods for some treatments.

However, if you choose to make the switch to a cover with equivalent benefits, you won’t need to re-serve the waiting periods, even if you have a pre-existing condition. That means you can switch to a policy that offers a better deal than your existing one knowing you won’t miss out on important medical care when you need it the most.

If you’ve had the same policy for a number of years, it’s always worth reviewing the benefits and premiums. You might be surprised at just how much you can save by transferring your cover to a specific seniors policy.

Situations always change and unfortunately as we age, medical issues can creep up without any warning. The policy you took out five years ago may not provide you with the level of cover you need right now and in the future.

What are the tax benefits for Seniors’ private health insurance?

Government tax rebates are available to all Australians with private health insurance, provided their income is below the threshold. When you reach 65, the tax rebate increases. This enables the Government to contribute more towards your health insurance while you pay less.

Your age also affects your tax rebate and applies most specifically towards those seniors on a low income. Regardless of your age, if you earn a high income which exceeds the threshold, you’re exempt from the rebates.

A higher tax rebate means you’re able to afford a higher level of health insurance than before. This can help ease the financial burden of expensive medical costs, avoid lengthy waiting lists and provide you with more benefits.

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Commonwealth Seniors Health Care Card income test

The Australian Government’s Department of Human Services offer a range of benefits to seniors through the Commonwealth Seniors Health Care Card.

If you’re eligible for the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card, you could enjoy the following benefits:

  • Cheaper prescriptions through the government’s Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS)
  • Access to bulk-billed doctors’ appointments
  • Reduced out-of-hospital medical expenses through the Medicare Safety Net
  • A quarterly Energy Supplement, helping you pay your phone and electricity bills
  • Discounted travel on Great Southern Rail services, including the Indian Pacific, the Ghan and the Overland
  • Access to additional health, household, transport, education and recreation concessions that may be offered by your state, territory or local government

To be eligible for the Commonwealth Seniors Health Care Card, you need to be 65 years and over and living in Australia as an Australian resident or on a Special Category visa. You must not be eligible to receive a payment from the Department of Veteran’s Affairs or the Department of Human Services.

You’ll be asked to provide your own and your partner’s tax file numbers and you’ll be subjected to an income test. To qualify for the Commonwealth seniors card, you must have an annual income of less than:

Singles - $55,808
Combined income for couples - $89,290
Combined income for couples who are separated by illness or respite care, or where one partner is in prison - $111,616

The income limits increase by $639.60 for each dependent child in your care.

Seniors health insurance for aged care

Private health insurance for seniors doesn’t provide cover for aged care support. However, there are three main types of aged care support available for eligible seniors that are partly government funded. This can help substantially lower the costs so you can spend the money on more important things like checking off items on your bucket list.

To help with daily living tasks, the main types of aged care support partly funded by the Government include:

  • Commonwealth Home Support Program

    Aimed to provide basic support services for those seniors who want to stay at home and enjoy their independence. This may include weekly cleaning or shopping trips

  • Home Care Package

    A service that aims to provide support for those seniors living in their own home with moderate care needs. This may include care from bathing and dressing to home maintenance and transportation.

  • Residential Care

    Provides accommodation in an aged care facility on a respite or permanent basis. This will include meals, laundry services and electricity costs. Respite care is partly funded by the Government, while permanent high care is solely funded by the client.

Seniors also have the option of receiving home care through a private agency at their own cost.

What’s next when deciding on seniors health insurance?

In an ideal world, you wouldn’t need to take out private health insurance cover, especially in your senior years. Instead, you could put more of your savings towards enjoying the pleasures of retirement.

The reality is, as we age, we’re more prone to injury and illness and the benefits of seniors private health insurance can be invaluable. To get the most out of your seniors health cover, it’s important you select a policy that best meets your needs now and for the years ahead

The great thing is, it only takes a few minutes to compare a range of options based on your health care needs. Our comparison tool will guide you through everything and help you find the best policy for you.

If you have any questions or queries with your seniors health insurance, we have friendly staff who are all health insurance experts. You can call one of our team on 1300 806 119

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