Do we need health insurance?

Q. Denise
We currently have private health insurance but because both my husband and I are now pensioners we are finding this very expensive.  We are thinking of dropping out of private health altogether and wondered if you could help with where this leaves us if further health problems should arise.  What sort of medical health care would we be eligible for without private cover?

A. It’s always a good idea to review your insurance cover regularly, as your health and financial position changes. However, giving up health insurance altogether could prove to be a costly mistake. Without private health insurance you will only be entitled to health care as provided by the state. This can often mean long waiting lists, care in public hospitals and limited access to extras such as dental, physiotherapy and podiatry. What services you will lose depends on the level of cover you currently have.

As pensioners, you can use your Pensioner Concession Card to access low cost prescriptions under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme and Medicare will also entitle you to bulk billing for many services. You can also access screening programs and special health services. For further details, you should visit the Department of Human Services

If you do decide to give up your private health care, you may find it difficult to get cover at a later date due to pre-existing medical conditions and waiting lists. Before you give up your cover, it is worth working out what areas you think you will need in future and which ones you can do without. Many policies cover things such as prenatal and maternity, althernative therapies and expensive extras which you may never use. A health insurance comparison site, such as Compare Health, can help you work out what you need and to find the best priced policy for your budget. 

Written by Debbie McTaggart