Your employer may offer you free or subsidized health insurance as part of the benefit package that comes with your position. However, these private insurance packages often omit key areas of health cover, leaving you short should a tricky situation arise. In this article, we’ll suggest routes you can take to top-up your workplace health cover – as well as reminding you of why it’s important to be insured.
As you know, in Australia, there are two main kinds of health insurance. You may or may not qualify for government support towards these through Medicare, so check what you’re entitled to at australia.gov.au before doing anything else.
The first type of health insurance you may need is hospital cover. Medicare pledges to cover 100% of in-hospital costs, but you may not find you are eligible for this. In which case, you’ll need to investigate private health insurers that offer specific hospital cover plans. Some of these include nice extras, such as dental cover, and General Practitioner (GP) consultations prior to commencing a course of treatment – this is something to which Medicare realistically will only ever contribute 75%. Dental and other specialist cover plans are usually reimbursed at around 85%, which could leave you footing a huge bill to bridge any gaps.
The second type of health insurance you may need is for general treatment. This covers ancillary costs, including ambulance transfers to and from hospital (some insurers bundle this with hospital cover). General Treatment insurance will also cover – to a certain point – those ‘nice extras’ we spoke of earlier, including specialist treatment outside of hospital. Cover for these less core procedures may add just a little more to your monthly payment, and is usually termed ‘extras cover’ (for example, HCF extras cover from health fund HCF).
Your workplace insurance may already cover almost all eventualities, but there’s likely to be room for improvement. If, for example, you work with screens or digital displays most of the time, you may automatically be able to claim for eye care costs – something that’s a standard policy in the US and UK. Assistance programs like these, though, are usually limited, and pretty much constitute the minimum legal contribution to the cost of a pair of glasses or contact lenses. More significant eye care costs should be specifically provided for, usually under the ‘extras cover’ of most health insurance schemes.
So, our key advice is to go through your workplace health insurance policy with a fine toothcomb. Figure out what’s there and what’s missing, and ensure that you’re covered in those areas you find lacking or bare. And don’t be tempted to skip it: your health insurance is one of the most important investments you can ever make.