Why do I need private health insurance?

With access to Medicare for Australians, many people are asking this very question. Although the reasons differ for many of us, here are some of the main advantages to get health insurance and stay covered.

1. Avoid waiting lists

The public system’s waiting lists can be extremely lengthy. But if you have private health insurance, depending on your level of cover, waiting lists can be significantly reduced and in some cases non-existent. Which potentially means faster attention. You will also get “locked in” dates meaning that you’ll know exactly when your operation is.

2. Your choice of doctor

You’re feeling nervous about an operation in the public system, and then when the day comes you discover you’ve never actually met the surgeon operating on you. Having private health insurance removes that uncertainty. It allows you to personally choose your doctor well in advance, and gives you the opportunity to seek peace of mind.

3. You could pay less tax

Individuals who have a taxable income of $90k or more (or a couple with a taxable income of $180k or more) and have not purchased an appropriate level of private health insurance, need to pay an extra 1-1.5% of their income in tax each year. It’s called the Medicare Levy Surcharge (MLS).

Having an appropriate level of hospital cover frees you from that obligation. If this applies to you, why wouldn’t you avoid the MLS. You may wish to discuss with your tax adviser.

4. Cover beyond Medicare

It’s not only in hospital when private health insurance is beneficial. Do you go to the dentist? Do you need to see a physio? Dental, optical, physio, chiro and many more services like these are usually not covered by Medicare. Having Extras cover allows you to claim some of those fees back. It’s cost effective and allows you to be proactive in managing smaller health issues before they become bigger problems.

5. Accidents happen

You’re young and healthy, so don’t need health cover, right? Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work out that way. No family history of serious illness? But you can’t always know what’s around the corner. Something unexpected like needing to have your tonsils out, or treatment to help you manage an injury from a freak accident could land you on a public hospital waiting list for months – or a hefty fee in a private hospital if you’re not insured.

Having health insurance provides that peace of mind knowing that if and when it becomes necessary to visit the hospital, you’re covered for the best the system can provide.