The private hospital’s coverage comes with some excellent benefits such as tax fines and shorter waiting times.
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Depending on your circumstances, private hospital insurance offers a wealth of benefits that you would not otherwise get by using Medicare, Australia’s national healthcare provider. From government incentives to tax fines and freedom of choice to less waiting time, we take a look at five good reasons why you should consider investing in private hospital insurance.
1. Peace of mind
A visit to the hospital is stressful enough without the extra worry and hassle of standing on a waiting list or staying in shared public hospital residences. With private hospital coverage in place, it is reassuring to know that you and your family get the best possible treatment choice – minus stress.
Whether you use your private hospital cover for a sudden emergency visit or a pre-planned hospital stay, depending on your policy, you may be able to choose your own doctor, have the choice between staying in a public or private hospital and possibly , restore in the privacy of your own room.
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2. Comfort and convenience
Public hospitals are busy places and while your status as an Australian citizen ensures that you will have access to health care and a bed should you need it, there may be some restrictions on the visit.
Public patients are assigned shared rooms and facilities in public hospitals, so you will no doubt be familiar with bustle and activity throughout the day and night, potentially making sleep and comfort unmanageable. Private hospital coverage can offer you access to private hospitals, which provide greater comfort such as private rooms and facilities, more flexible visiting hours and even better catering.
3. Tax time allowance
Having private hospital coverage also has some financial benefits. While you will have to pay for your policy, depending on how much you earn, you may be eligible for the private health insurance rebate.
This is the amount that the Australian Government contributes to your premium and can be refunded directly to your insurance provider to reduce the cost of your premiums during the year, or as a lump sum when you file your tax return with the Australian Tax Office.
Additionally, if you are a higher income earner, private hospital coverage can also reduce the amount that the government will tax you. The Medicare Levy Supplement (MLS) is a tax penalty for higher-income Australians who do not have private hospital cover but earn above a certain taxable income. The amount of MLS higher income will pay each year at the time of tax depends on how much you earn, which is calculated on two income limits – single and family – and increases across four income levels.
Comparative Service iSelects spokeswoman Jessie Petterd said avoiding extra tax should not be the main point of taking out private health insurance, but rather an extra bonus.
4. Reduced waiting times
Public patients can expect to ‘wait in line’ for elective surgery and treatments, and their order in the queue is determined by the urgency of their condition and treated in the same order in which they are placed on the waiting list.
Waiting times will vary considerably depending on how urgent your condition is as well as your public hospital and its available resources.
Patients with private hospital coverage, on the other hand, can choose their own specialist, and if surgery is recommended, they will only be limited by their surgeon’s schedule. This will inevitably reduce the waiting time and ensure that you get the care you need within a more comfortable time frame.
“Hospital coverage allows for shorter waiting times for elective surgery,” Petterd said. “You also have greater choices about when and where you want to be treated, including the choice of hospital and doctor.”
5. Increased choice
While public patients can expect good service and care using Medicare, it has some limitations. Healthcare practitioners are assigned to you, and the availability of individual physicians, as well as appointment times and hospital stay options, are limited and will depend on the availability of public resources at any given time.
By comparison, private hospital patients are generally able to choose their own healthcare providers and hospital accommodation options, which can ensure comfort, convenience and coherence in treatment.
You also have a wealth of choices when it comes to private health policies. Private cover is available in four levels – basic, bronze, silver and gold. If you need more comprehensive private health insurance for yourself or your family – with more options, fewer waiting times and increased options in benefits and accommodation, you can consider going one level up – and even adding extra coverage – as in it long runs, can also offer increased convenience and save you money.
“Extra coverage helps with the cost of a number of other health services such as dentistry, physiotherapy and optics and even some approved lifestyle and preventative health benefits such as gym membership,” Ms Petard said.
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