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More than two in five Australians experience a mental health issue in their life, according to the latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics. The National Study of Mental Health and Wellbeing found that during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, 21.4% of Australians had experienced a mental health disorder in the previous 12 months.
Because mental health is so important to so many Australians, finding a health insurance policy which offers the level of cover you need could be vital. You can compare a variety of health insurance policies through Savvy right here, considering offers side-by-side to determine which provides the most suitable mental health cover for your needs from among a panel of trusted providers. Get started through Savvy today.
Does private health insurance cover mental health?
There are many ways that private health insurance can assist you to manage your mental health. If you have a hospital cover policy and require inpatient psychiatric care, your policy may cover some or all of the costs of your hospital stay, depending on the level of cover you have and where you receive your treatment. Extras cover may also offer assistance with the cost of seeing a counsellor or psychologist to help you get through challenging times.
The good news is that you may not have to wait long to get help with the cost of inpatient mental health treatment. In 2018, the Australian Government introduced a waiting period exemption for higher benefits for mental health treatment as a private patient. The details of this scheme are as follows:
Mental health waiting period exemption
Cover for mental health treatment as a private inpatient in a public hospital is offered by all hospital cover policies. However, cover for in-hospital psychiatric services in a private hospital is only offered on a compulsory basis by gold tier hospital policies.
However, under the government’s mental health waiting period exemption, if you wish to upgrade from your current policy to a gold tier hospital cover policy offering full coverage for inpatient psychiatric services, you can do so with no waiting period. This exemption to the usual two-month waiting period can only be claimed once in a lifetime and can enable those who urgently need private psychiatric inpatient treatment to receive it without any delays.
What types of mental health treatment can be covered by a hospital policy?
There are many private hospitals and clinics in Australia offering discreet inpatient treatment for a variety of mental health conditions, which may include:
- Inpatient treatment for severe depression
- Anxiety disorders including agoraphobia, claustrophobia and panic attacks
- Acute psychotic episodes (including schizophrenic episodes)
- Postnatal depression (mother-baby services)
- Drug and alcohol addiction issues
- Withdrawal from benzodiazepine or analgesic use
- Eating disorders (including anorexia and bulimia)
- Personality disorders (such as borderline personality disorder and bipolar disorder)
- Neuropsychiatric conditions caused by acquired brain injury
- Neurocognitive and neurodegenerative issues (including dementia)
If you have top hospital cover, the costs of being admitted to a private hospital or clinic offering specialist help with mental health conditions may be partially or completely covered by your private health insurance. As such, it’s important to check with your insurer and compare your options before you buy, which you can do right here through Savvy.
What is included under mental health insurance cover?
A gold or silver plus hospital cover policy that includes private hospital psychiatric cover can help with many of the costs of receiving inpatient care, including:
- The cost of being admitted to either a public or private hospital or clinic as a private patient
- Costs associated with having a private room (subject to availability)
- Fees charged for consultations with psychiatrists, psychologists and doctors
- Medications prescribed whilst you’re an inpatient
Extras cover may assist you with the costs of getting treatment for mental health issues in the community. This could involve seeing a counsellor or psychologist or having group therapy to assist you to live a happier life.
Extras cover can also partially or wholly cover the cost of private:
- Counselling appointments with accredited mental health social workers
- Counselling appointments with accredited First Nations mental health care providers
- Telehealth counselling services
- Cognitive behaviour therapy
- Anxiety management therapy
- Relaxation techniques
- Some gap costs for medications including antidepressants and benzodiazepines
By comparing health insurance policies through Savvy, you’ll be able to see the levels of cover on offer and look at different policies side-by-side so you can determine which is most appropriate for your situation from a panel of providers.
Types of health insurance
This can help you pay for medical treatment if you need to be admitted to hospital. It can help cover the cost of your admission or accommodation and the fees charged by doctors, surgeons and anaesthetists. It can also cover other costs associated with a stay in a private hospital.
This helps cover the costs of health care treatments outside a hospital setting which aren’t covered by Medicare. This can include major and minor dental treatment, orthodontics, hearing aids, physiotherapy, glasses, contact lenses and podiatry (in most cases with annual limits).
This is a standard health insurance policy designed for a single person, rather than being tailored to cater to the needs of a couple or family. It may include hospital cover plus extras, or either of these types of insurance on their own, depending on what you're after for your health cover.
A family health insurance policy is designed for a family unit including dependent children who may reach up to 31 years of age with some insurers. It offers private health insurance suitable for the whole family and may include shared limits for all members included in your policy.
A health insurance policy aimed at seniors is designed to appeal to people who are in the second half of their life. These are often specific Silver Plus policies that offer the same cover as other health insurance policies, with the exception that pregnancy and childbirth cover may not be included.
Visitors who are in Australia on a temporary basis for travel, work or study may be able to take out Overseas Visitors Health Cover (OVHC). Many visas issued in Australia come with a requirement to take out this type of insurance, which covers visitors who may not be covered by Medicare.
Ambulance cover is generally available either packaged into your private health insurance or on its own as a separate policy or subscription. By having this protection, you could be covered for all eligible ambulance travel in Australia (subject to your insurer's terms and conditions).
The cheapest and most barebones form of private hospital insurance, this can include cover for rehab, in-hospital psychiatric services and palliative care. Having this policy will enable you to avoid paying the Medicare Levy Surcharge (MLS) and Lifetime Health Cover (LHC) loading.
Bronze hospital cover is a step up from basic insurance, including 18 further clinical categories such as ear, nose and throat, bone, joint and muscle, digestive system, joint reconstructions, gynaecology and chemotherapy, radiotherapy and immunotherapy for cancer.
Silver hospital cover is the second-most expensive type of policy and offers the second-most clinical categories. On top of what's offered by basic and bronze cover, it also includes heart and vascular system, lung and chest, blood, hearing device implantation and dental surgery.
The highest level of private hospital insurance available in Australia, gold policies can offer cover for pregnancy and birth, weight loss surgery, assisted reproductive services and insulin pumps on top of all the categories provided by silver, bronze and basic hospital insurance.
Why compare health insurance through Savvy?
Frequently asked questions about mental health insurance
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