What should the best health insurance for seniors look like?

  • November 04, 2020 02:39 PM AEDT
  • Edita Ivancevic
    Journalist Edita Ivancevic
    212 Posts

    Edita is a young journalist who graduated in 2019 from the Faculty of Political Science in Zagreb, Croatia, specialising in Television and Public Relations. Since the teenage years, Edita gained knowledge of news reporting and analysing complex curre...

What should the best health insurance for seniors look like?

Summary

  • Seniors require the best insurance possible as they are prone to age-related diseases and injuries, and thus more likely to be hospitalised.
  • Depending on the situation, one should consider either upgrading or downgrading one’s private insurance policy. The decision will primarily be influenced by funds one owns long-term.
  • The best health insurance for seniors should be the most affordable while offering the vastest amount of extra coverage.
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Retirees are more likely to visit a hospital either due to an illness or an injury. Surgeries and hospital admissions eventually become a part of the regular day in most cases. To enhance their quality of life, seniors need access to high-quality medical services. That said, extras and private insurance covers might be something to ponder.

ALSO READ: Guide to Safe Retirement

Australia is famous for its highly efficient Medicare system - public insurance that covers for most of the necessary costs and is mainly sufficient for youths. However, Medicare does not cover for a lot of extras that are common in the retirement age, such as heart surgeries and joint replacements.

For that reason, seniors are often advised to look for the best possible policy so that it could cover all their future needs.

RELATED: What are the different types of health insurance available in Australia?

Do seniors genuinely need extra insurance?

With age, most seniors start developing new illnesses while the healing process slows down. As private insurance undoubtedly offers a wide range of benefits (a doctor of choice, an option to select a private hospital from a range of partners, skipping up to six months of waiting queues for surgeries, access to affordable palliative care, and many more).

While the benefits sound appealing, it may take up to 12 months before seniors could claim them. Most pre-existing conditions require the longest waiting periods so seniors should focus more on booking appointments at the right time.

DO READ: What do we mean by waiting period for private health insurance?

Moreover, some experts argue that Australian public healthcare system is more than sufficient for seniors’ needs. History has shown that some older people were denied admission to a hospital despite holding private insurance, so having one is not a guarantee of secure hospital service.

RELATED: Do seniors need private health insurance, or is Medicare enough?

The Australian government has also helped seniors by introducing Commonwealth Seniors Health Care Card and Pensioner Concession Card, which led to even more affordable healthcare. With those two benefits, seniors can access the following:

  • Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) offers the benefit of cheaper medicines.
  • No payments needed for additional doctor’s appointments (bulk billing).
  • Treatments outside of the hospital are accessible on a reduced price (Medicare Safety Net).
  • More benefits for services outside of the hospital.
  • Hearing device assistance.
  • More affordable dental and vision care.
  • Ambulance service with a reduced price or completely free.

MUST READ: What is an ambulance cover, and is it for you?

How to get the best value for private insurance?

Insurance companies increase their premiums every year. This year, the insurers changed their policies in October, resulting in insurance becoming less affordable. As the premiums regularly change every year, seniors should look out for a change in premiums and act accordingly. Every private insurance company has an obligation of sending any changes to the customer. Therefore, it is advised to check for emails or postage from the insurers regularly.

INTERESTING READ: What factors can impact your health insurance premiums?

Seniors should think twice before committing to private insurance. Private policies are expensive so seniors should make sure they truly need it before purchasing one. There are various reasons why some would want to have a private insurance policy (saving on tax due to LHC, for their own reassurance, etc.). Whatever the reason may be, seniors should confirm terms and conditions for their policies and check if it is worth it.

Image Source: © Kalkine Group 2020

Image Source: © Kalkine Group 2020

ALSO READ: How much does private health insurance cost?

There are many private insurance policies to choose from. For that reason, seniors need to corroborate all extras and benefits included within the package. One thing that could make the search hunt easier is looking at customised seniors’ policies, which are also cheaper than family or single-family plans.

DID YOU READ: How do Financial Planners Pick the Best Health Insurance for You?

Individuals should do their due diligence and explore multiple options before settling on one. Australia has several insurance companies that are waiting for new clients and are offering different products at competitive prices. Australian government’s website Private Health and other independent sites are offering search tools that help find the best private policy depending on individual requirements.

DO READ: 6 Important checklist items to consider while buying health insurance plans

The easiest way to save on private insurance now would be to sign and prepay for the policy before the next revision cycle, 1 April 2021. The insurers tend to increase their premiums in April (2020 being an exception), after thorough evaluations and reviews of medical expenses nationwide.

RELATED: Australian Health Insurance Got Expensive in October; How can you save?

What would be the best private insurance policy for seniors?

As Australians can retire once they turn 60, the retirement period might be as long as three decades. Thirty years is a long time without a stable and vast income, so the best seniors’ policy would be the one that covers the maximum treatments and, most importantly, is the most affordable.

Gold packages often offer the best care for the policyholders, especially seniors, as it includes treatments specific for them. However, it might be a good idea to have a family member when deciding about private healthcare, as well as the family doctor.

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