The Australian healthcare system can be challenging to navigate during your transition from Defence to civilian life. Understanding the public and private systems will help you make informed decisions and choose the health coverage you need. Below is a breakdown of some of the key things you should consider about civilian healthcare in Australia.
The Public System (Medicare)
Medicare provides all Australian citizens, and permanent residents access to the public healthcare system. Once registered with Medicare, 100% of your costs will be covered if you are admitted into a public hospital. However, Medicare doesn’t generally pay a benefit towards out-of-hospital healthcare such as dental, optical, and physiotherapy.
The Private System
Private health insurance consists of Hospital and Extras (or Ancillary) coverage. If you have private hospital coverage, you can choose to be treated as a private patient in a public hospital, private hospital, or day hospital facility. On the other hand, extras cover pays benefits towards out-of-hospital health services, which means you’ll pay less out-of-pocket costs when using these services.
Benefits of Private Hospital Cover
In the public system, hospitals will choose which doctors and specialists treat you, and you may be subject to waiting lists for nonemergency surgery. Private health cover allows you to select your doctor or surgeon. Choosing a doctor or surgeon you know, and trust may help your peace of mind. In addition, you can avoid any lengthy public waiting lists applicable in the public system.
The benefit of Private Extras (Ancillary) Cover
If you go to the dentist, wear glasses, or seek treatment from an osteopath or physiotherapist, you might benefit financially from taking out extras cover. The right extras cover can mean less out-of-pocket costs or, in some cases, no costs for these services.
Avoid the Medicare Levy Surcharge
The standard Medicare Levy is 2% of your taxable income and helps fund the costs of the public healthcare system. However, an additional Medicare Levy Surcharge, up to 1.5%, is payable when you earn above $90,000 a year as a single or $180,000 a year as a family. You can avoid this surcharge by taking out a private hospital cover.
Avoid Lifetime Health Cover loading (LHC)
Lifetime Health Cover loading (LHC) is a Government initiative to encourage people to take out private hospital cover and maintain it for life.
Suppose you do not have private hospital cover; you may be subject to the LHC loading when you decide to take out cover after the 1st of July, following your 31st birthday. You will incur a 2% loading each year you are over 30 years of age (to a maximum of 70%) on your premium if you choose to take Private health insurance coverage out later in life. The loading will be removed after ten continuous years of holding a private hospital policy.
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