If you've got kids, ensuring they are cared for health-wise is a top priority. While we're lucky to have a superb health care focus in Australia, many families will at times wish to improve their cover for the unexpected hiccups children and their parents are likely to face on occasion, 'just in case.'
Navigating the world of health care for families can be so confusing. Today I welcome this guest post by Health Insurance Comparison, which explains some of the basic and common questions you may have regarding health cover (and some important considerations) under both the public and private systems:
We're fortunate enough to have a great public health care system in the form of Medicare, which offers support if your family needs to go to a hospital or see a specialist. There is less support available for out-of-hospital services though and many families therefore choose to buy health insurance for better peace of mind. Here are some benefits of health insurance for families with young children.
What Support is Available Through Medicare?
If any member of your family needs to be admitted to hospital, Medicare covers 100 per cent of the costs of being treated in a public hospital (as a public patient) or 75 per cent of the costs of being a private patient in a public or private hospital (excluding theatre fees, medicines and accommodation costs for private patient treatment). You can therefore expect some out-of-pocket expenses if any member of the family is admitted to hospital as a private patient but there won't be a bill to pay as a public patient.
Eye tests by qualified optometrists are covered by Medicare but if a sight test indicates that vision correction will be needed, Medicare will not help with these costs. This can be significant if your child needs to have glasses, for example.
Medicare offers some dental support for children in the form of the Child Dental Benefit Scheme but this is capped at a maximum of $1000 over two consecutive years. Beyond this, Medicare only covers dental treatment in exceptional circumstances so it's advisable to look at having health insurance to keep your family's oral health in check.
How Does Health Insurance Help?
Medicare offers free public hospital treatment but this can involve substantial waiting times for some elective surgery. Private hospital cover can significantly reduce this and limit stress for your family as a result.
Out-of-hospital services such as dental, optical and chiro are not covered by Medicare. To avoid out-of-pocket expenses for accessing these types of services, many families opt to have at least some degree of ancillary/Extras health insurance. Most basic to mid level Extras policies will include popular services such as General Dental (for preventative dental for the family), Optical (for vision correction) and Physiotherapy, although the limits will often be on the low side. As children get older and are more likely to need orthodontic work, Major Dental can become increasingly important for families.
How to Choose Health Insurance For Your Family
Many health funds offer cover aimed at families, which is usually tailored to include the type of services that will be needed for families with relatively young children. As a general rule of thumb, a Family policy will often be combined Hospital and Extras cover with basic to mid level hospital services and some of the popular Extras services that families will expect to use. It therefore will not necessarily be the most comprehensive cover available but many families find this type of policy is sufficient for their needs. It's definitely worth shopping around for a Family policy as the exact details of what is covered can vary between health funds, as will the annual limits for each included service.
Think carefully about the type of services that you anticipate that your family will need - and include services that are likely to become important over the next year as well. This will help you to decide on the type of policy that will work best for your family's needs and means that you won't be caught out by waiting periods for services that are not needed right now (but will be in the not-too-distant future).
Once you have completed your family, you can look to cut back on health insurance costs by opting for a policy that doesn't include Obstetrics cover. Adapting your cover to get rid of services that are no longer relevant to you is one of the easiest ways to save without compromising on the services that your family do need. Ideally, try to review your policy at least once a year to check that you're not paying a lot for services that won't benefit you, particularly as your needs as a family begin to change.
You can compare policies from multiple health funds at HealthInsuranceComparison.com.au. Visit them here.
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