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Reaching 60 is a major milestone for many Aussies. It’s also a time when people may start thinking about their plans for the future, including retirement. These plans may include taking a look at their health insurance to make sure they have the right cover for the years ahead.
If you’re thinking about a review of your health insurance needs, Savvy can help. You can compare these free quotes side-by-side to make sure you’re getting the best deal available from a panel of leading health insurers. Start your review of health insurance here today with Savvy.
What are my health insurance options when I’m over 60?
Private health insurance policies for seniors over 60 are the same as those for younger adults in Australia. This is due to Australia’s community rating health insurance laws, which mean all residents are entitled to the same health cover, regardless of age or health status. This means you'll be offered the same health cover whether you're over 50 or under 30. However, some health insurance policies may be more suitable for Aussies who are older and have more complex health needs, as they offer a wider range of cover areas.
There are two main types of health insurance in Australia. Hospital cover can assist you with the cost of hospital admission, while extras cover can help with the costs of healthcare received in the community, such as dental or optical treatments or hearing aids.
This form of health insurance covers the cost of hospital treatment as an in-patient. You can be treated as a private patient either in a public or private hospital and may enable you to access a private room depending on availability. It can cover areas such as:
- The cost of admission, theatre and recovery ward fees
- Fees charged by doctors, surgeons, anaesthetists
- Surgery and other treatment fees, including tests performed while you’re admitted to hospital
- The cost of medications and pharmaceuticals provided to in-patients
- Additional health services provided such as pain management, dietary advice and physiotherapy while you’re in hospital
Hospital cover comes in four tiers. The Australian Government regulates the type of cover which must be provided at each of basic, bronze, silver and gold policies. This makes it easier to compare apples with apples when you’re looking at hospital policies as a senior. Hospital cover can also include insurance for ambulance transport, although this type of insurance can also be offered with extras cover or as a standalone policy.
This health cover assists with the cost of other health services required outside of hospital, such as optical, dental and hearing aids. The range of services it may cover includes:
- Preventative and major dental work
- Optical and hearing aids
- Physiotherapy, chiropractic and podiatry services
- Remedial massage
- Speech therapy
- Non-PBS medications
- Other health and wellbeing services, such as assistance to manage weight loss or diabetes
- Telehealth services
Extras cover is also available in different levels, although these aren’t as strictly regulated by the government, so there's more variation in cover. Many health funds offer incentives to new customers to join, such as waivers on certain waiting periods, free weeks’ cover or extra benefits such as loyalty programs or free gym membership.
How should I compare health insurance plans for seniors over 60?
When comparing health funds, it’s important to look at the health services you use and those you have no requirement for. There's little point paying top dollar for a policy which is dominated by services you’ll likely never use.
These are some of the questions to ask yourself when considering private health insurance as an older Australian:
- What are my health needs now and what may they be in the future? Which level of cover offers the best range of treatments that I know I’ll use or would like to have available to me?
- What are the inclusions and exclusions of the policy? Are there any exclusions in areas I need cover for?
- How much excess can I afford to pay if I’m admitted to hospital? Do I want a more expensive policy with a lower excess, or a higher excess and lower premiums?
- Are there any co-payments required for a hospital admission?
- Does the policy offer ambulance cover bundled in? Do I need ambulance cover, or do I already have it included with another type of insurance?
- What are the total benefit levels I can claim with the policy? Are these sufficient for my current healthcare needs or should I look at a higher-grade policy which may offer more cover?
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 health insurance for over 60s
Helpful health insurance guides
Looking for health insurance to cover your condition or treatment?
Read one of our helpful guides on a range of different ailments and potential hospital or extras treatments to help you find out if they're covered.
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