Private Health Insurance in Australia – Is It Worth It?

All you need to do is show your Medicare card, receive the required treatment, and walk out without paying a cent.

So the question remains begged to be asked. Why should we fork out thousands of dollars each year to have private health insurance when the government covers everything under Medicare? 

Yes, it’s complicated and a number of factors need to be analyzed. But in spite of the fact we are covered 100% for everything under Medicare for emergencies and public hospital treatments; it will not help you jump the queue. Most public hospitals are overcrowded as it is, and patients are generally placed on a waiting list for non-urgent procedures.  

What classifies a non-urgent procedure varies, according to your doctor, health fund and the hospital. In my years of working in the industry, I read the story of a poor young woman who was rushed to hospital with chest pains, only to find out she had a leak in her heart.  This woman did not have private health insurance, and was under the impression that she could have the treatment done promptly in the public system. Unfortunately, her doctor deemed the procedure as non-life threatening, and she was faced with a staggering eight month weight to have a valve replacement.  Fortunately, she’s alive and healthy today, but she recalls of her anxiety suffered while on the waiting list for her heart-valve replacement. 

The next factor is price.  Under immense pressure from the 2008 financial crisis, many families pulled out from health insurance, citing it as an unnecessary cost. This is a perfectly acceptable risk for a younger person.  However, as people begin to age, the risks of unforeseen hospital visits begins to rise. No one can predict the future, and you just never know! The month which you withdraw from health insurance may be the same one you fall over in the backyard doing the gardening, which led to a $40,000 joint replacement procedure. In this day and age, how many Australian families have that much money floating around to fund such a procedure? 

To answer the question, I personally believe the younger generation can forego private health cover until the point in their lives where starting a family becomes a priority. But for older Australians, I would recommend a health insurance cover as a means to help make any unexpected hospital visit a little bit easier and reduce the potential financial burden caused by pricey hospital bills.