Private health insurance and coronavirus: What you need to know

Mar 21, 2020
Is it worth getting health insurance for COVID-19? Source: Shutterstock.

The crumbling situation in Italian hospitals paints a worrying picture for the rest of the world. In some cases, patients are being triaged by doctors and nurses to avoid overcapacity in hospitals and the rationing of treatment.

While the health response to Covid-19 is led by the public system, if this worst case scenario rears its ugly head on Australian soil, it may also leave those with private health care and pre-existing medical conditions wondering what will happen to them, and whether they have sufficient cover, amongst the chaos.

Do you need private health cover to deal with coronavirus?

Private health insurance can be beneficial for those over 60 if they are admitted to hospital as a private patient, provided they have not shown signs or symptoms within six months of taking out their policy, according to health expert Anthony Fleming at Comparethemarket.com.au.

Coronavirus will typically fall under the clinical category of Lung and Chest in a health policy and is covered under either the Bronze Plus or Silver level across the majority of providers.

“It’s crucial for consumers to talk to their health fund to make sure their private hospital policy includes the right categories, services and procedures relating to the coronavirus, along with any other health concerns they may have,” he said.

“Plus, for those living outside of Queensland and Tasmania, it’s also important to check whether your policy includes ambulance coverage for both emergency and non-emergency transport.”

Lucy Cheetham, acting CEO of the Australian Private Hospitals Association, said the entire health sector was working together to ensure Australians had the best possible outcome throughout the situation. This means responding to the pandemic as well as making sure the health needs of those with pre-existing medical conditions continue to be met.

“This includes elective surgeries and ongoing treatment for chronic conditions,” she said. “Privately insured Australians with elective surgery booked may be asked additional questions and required to take additional precautions to ensure that they are safe to proceed but otherwise it is business as usual.”

Cheetham also suggested that although private hospitals in Australia primarily provide elective surgery, they are willing and able to assist the public system in managing their case loads if they become inundated with emergency cases.

As f0r payments, a spokesman from Private Healthcare Australia, assured customers that no matter what, the health fund will pay for what they owe when it comes to bills for private hospitals.

“Covid-19 does not affect a member’s health fund cover,” he said. “If a member is admitted to hospital their health fund will pay for their hospital care as per their policy. If you have hospital cover you will be covered for hospital admission.”

Seniors can also take comfort in knowing that the Australian Government is taking steps specifically for the healthcare of seniors both in aged care and home care.

A temporary workforce will be available in case of a staff shortage due to the impacts of Covid-19, meanwhile the Government will also fund specialist “in-reach” pathology testing for the virus and influenza in residential aged care facilities.

IMPORTANT LEGAL INFO This article is of a general nature and FYI only, because it doesn’t take into account your personal health requirements or existing medical conditions. That means it’s not personalised health advice and shouldn’t be relied upon as if it is. Before making a health-related decision, you should work out if the info is appropriate for your situation and get professional medical advice.

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