Faster  Access to Addiction Treatment with Private Health Insurance

Addiction is a common illness in many countries. 1 in 20 Australians is dealing with addiction or substance abuse. The treatment of addictions requires short-term and long-term services both medical and psychological. Prolonged use of substance could cause damage to the internal organs, nerves or brain. The journey of recovery also includes long-term psychological and emotional support. Some of the most common treatments a former addict may need are:

  • Inpatient or outpatient psychiatric/behavioural counselling
  • Procedures to treat kidney/liver/lung damage
  • Dietary and weight management
  • Heart conditions
  • Medications to heal damaged organs or address psychiatric disorders
  • Pain management (especially for withdrawal)
  • Dental procedures

While the Australian Government does fund some addiction rehabilitative programs, most facilities are run by non-government or nonprofit organisations. There is often a waitlist to get into the private rehab centres in your area. Delaying professional help can cause a setback in the recovery process. Using private insurance allows you to select private facilities that could accommodate you or your loved one immediately and provide the best support.

Upgrade Your Private Health Covers without Waiting Periods

Many private clinics will accept private health insurance for their inpatient programs and many private hospital covers will include (at least partially) medications and procedures necessary during the first crucial phases of the recovery.

Normally, upgrading to your health policy for better coverage comes with waiting periods. The waiting period for inpatient psychiatric care, rehabilitation and palliative care is currently two months, even for pre-existing conditions. But thanks to the private health insurance reforms introduced back in April of 2018, now you can upgrade to a policy that includes necessary addiction treatments without serving the 2-month waiting period. Moreover, the limits sometimes placed on mental health benefits such as counselling, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), and transcranial magnetic stimulation have now been removed. This is to help people get access to helpful treatments during their long-term journey to ensure recovery success and minimise the risks of relapse.

You can upgrade after you’ve been admitted to hospital. As long as you do so within 5 days, the entire stay will be covered. The upgrade to a policy that covers hospital psychiatric services without waiting periods can only be used once in your lifetime. So don’t immediately downgrade to a cheaper policy after your recovery. Keep the services in your policy which may become necessary in case of relapse or other unforeseen events occur so that you are able to access the benefits right away.

Some private insurers offer hospital psychiatric services in the lower tier hospital cover products. When upgrading for the first time, we recommend you find a policy that suits your both immediate and longer-term needs.

Selecting the Right Insurance Covers

Thanks to the new tier system applicable to all private hospital covers, comparing hospital covers has become easier even for customers with limited knowledge. While the system mandates certain hospital services to be included as a minimum in each of the 4 tiers (Basic, Bronze, Silver, and Gold), insurers often offer additional services in the lower tier products in order to attract customers. For instance, hospital psychiatric services are a required minimum in all hospital products but only the Gold tier requires unlimited benefits. However, some insurers will offer unrestricted coverage for hospital psychiatric services in their lower-tier products. Many hospital covers (and also extras covers) offer emergency ambulatory services across all of their products. Especially if you or your loved one is struggling with addiction, access to ambulance services is extremely important.

The extras cover offers outpatient and ancillary services such as physiotherapy, outpatient counselling, dietary management, etc. It is highly recommended that you also have an extras cover, in addition to your hospital cover, so that you can more actively engage in preventative services and benefit from good physical and mental therapy support in your day-to-day life.

Use Compare Health Insurance to find the right hospital, extras, or combined covers for you and your family today!

Support Services for Addiction

You can also explore the support programs made available by the Australian Government, state/territory governments, and nonprofit organisations.

Counselling Online: Free 24/7 drug and alcohol counselling and educational information

Family Drug Support Australia: Support resources for those struggling with drug addiction and their family/friends

  • 24/7 phone support at 1300 368 186

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA): Community support program for problem drinkers

  • Find a local chapter or online meeting at
  • Call at 1300 222 222 for more information

Narcotics Anonymous (NA): Community support program for narcotics addicts

National Alcohol and Other Drug Helpline: Can direct you to appropriate services/programs in your state

  • 24/7 phone service at 1800 250 015
  • Web chat service available Monday to Friday 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Alcohol and Drug Information Services (ADIS): 24-hour information services in each state

  • ACT: 02 6207 9977
  • NSW (Regional): 1800 422 599
  • NSW (Metro): 02 9361 8000
  • NT: 1800 131 350
  • QLD (Regional): 1800 177 833
  • QLD (Metro): 07 3837 5989
  • SA: 1300 131 340
  • TAS: 1800 811 994
  • VIC: 1800 888 236
  • WA (Regional): 1800 198 024
  • WA (Metro): 08 9442 5000