Do you take out private health insurance cover or hope the public hospital system will save the day if you really need it?
For me, like many Australians, the answer comes down to cost, and whether or not we can afford it.
While there are some 13.5 million Australians who rely on private health cover, I’d wager that some of the toughest decisions they make in relation to it, are about cost, such as how many extras do you include above the basics.
For Sydney Mum, Taryn Marsall the decision to take out private health cover while pregnant spared her toddler having to wait for surgery to treat his blindness.
“George was about 18 months old when we noticed both of his eyes start to get a little bit lazy.
“We took him to the optometrist thinking that we would just need to get some exercises and it turned out that he was born with cataracts over both his eyes.
“It was a bit of long process because it is different with children they don’t operate straight away like they do with little people.
“If we didn’t have private health cover I can’t imagine what the wait list would have been to watch our child suffer for longer than he needed to, it would have been horrible.”
Taryn’s story is just an example of where private hospital cover has been a lifesaver in cutting down lengthy wait times.
It is also one of many stories that feature on Private Health Public Benefit website, which is also running a competition to win $2,000 for telling your private health insurance story. Not a bad bonus before Christmas if you’ve got one to share!
The median wait time for elective surgery for private health members is 21 days, compared to 42 days for public patients.
From my own experience, I’ve had family members who have been on public hospital wait lists for up to 3 years for necessary but non-life threatening surgeries.
It’s a long time to wait – time they could have spent pain-free but just couldn’t afford the insurance cover.
So what are the benefits of private health cover?
- Timely care and avoid long public hospital waiting lists.
- Waiting times are the difference between being able to return to work and social activities – things we usually take for granted.
- Consistency of care. Having private health insurance means you can choose your doctor.
Here’s what forgoing private health insurance means.
- Cashflow. Potentially more regular money in the bank in the absence of private health cover payments.
- Subject to public hospital wait times. These can be lengthy and add to pain and suffering.
- There is a greater onus on you to take your health seriously and save money for that rainy day health event that you may need to pay for such as elective surgery and/or specialist treatment.
I suppose the one extra thing that private health insurance gives is peace of mind that you are covered should an unfortunate health event happen.
On the flip side of not being able to afford private cover, it’s comforting in knowing that Australia’s public health system is considered one of the best in the world, and that’s despite having some short-comings.
This article has been written in partnership with Private Health Public Benefit to assist women with money matters.