Studio 10 host Angela Bishop has slammed the idea of withdrawing money from superannuation accounts to pay for healthcare such as weight loss surgery, claiming it is “very dangerous” and could result in an increase in medical fees.
The television reporter joined fellow hosts to discuss the issue after it was revealed that more than 30,000 requests by Aussies were approved last financial year for their super funds to be withdrawn to cover medical needs such as weight-loss surgery.
Data from the Department of Human Services, showed a staggering increase in approved requests from 15,132 in 2016-17 – with the majority of withdrawals going towards weight-loss surgery and IVF. In fact a total of 13,788 were approved for weight-loss related surgery to the value of $207m.
While some may be pleased the hear of the possibilities of dipping into super accounts, according to Angela it is a cause for concern with the host encouraging Aussies not to go down that path to fund medical procedures.
“I think it’s very dangerous and should be avoided at all costs because what happens in the medical fraternity is once they know you can get this money from your super, the costs mysteriously rise,” she explained.
More Aussies are dipping into their superannuation to pay for weight loss surgery and IVF, with 30,000 requests approved last financial year. @AngelaBishop: "We're begging governments to keep their mitts off our super, we've got to keep our mitts off it too." #Studio10 pic.twitter.com/GS7dHhoxTk
— Studio 10 (@Studio10au) July 17, 2019
“Remember when the baby bonus came in and private obstetrician fees suddenly came out at about the same amount as the baby bonus because they knew people had it to spare.”
The reporter added: “So if they know that that money is accessible it will be suggested at the time… and it will suddenly become widespread and I think that’s very, very risky.
“We’re begging governments to keep their mitts off our super, we’ve got to keep our mitts off it.”
While most of the other panel members agreed it could cause problems in the long run, guest host Merrick Watts admitted he was a “little bit torn” with the idea.
“I do believe that your superannuation is yours, it is our money, we’ve got to think about it as our money but also too, it’s a slippery slope with the medical fraternity,” he explained on Wednesday morning’s program.
“Perhaps what starts to happen is you’ll go well this type of elective surgery or this type of medical treatment is okay and before you know we’ll creep to the point where people like myself are now looking at superannuation and thinking ‘can you have ear and nose reductions?’.”
A person may apply to the Australian Taxation Office for the early release of superannuation benefits on compassionate grounds where the release is required for medical treatment, recent passing of a dependent, palliative care for a terminal illness, modifications to accomodate a severe disability and preventing foreclosure or forced sale of their home.
With relation to medical treatment the ATO may approve the early release of superannuation on the grounds it is for a life threatening illness or injury, acute or chronic pain, or acute or chronic mental illness.
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