We all know it is important to ensure we’re safe guarded against any unexpected health issues. Any of us could have a medical emergency at any time and we need to ensure both we and those we love can be taken care of, if needed. While it is impossible to know exactly how much you might need to cover both medical expenses and loss of income during a period of illness, there are things we can do to ensure we are ok.

That’s why knowing what you are available to access through Medicare and if suitable, also purchasing health insurance and regularly examining different plan options is a good idea.


Preventative health tactics

First off, remember that taking care of your health and focussing on preventative health tactics is smart. Not only will it ensure you have better quality of life, you will also potentially save many thousands of dollars. So, consider a pool or gym membership as an investment in your health. It is possible to make exercise and eating well fun. Why not take a healthy cooking class or visit a fruit and vegetable market on the weekend? Or finally try out that boxing class you’ve been talking about going to for months?


What you can claim on Medicare

It is also important to know what you can claim for and save money on. This is the first place to start when it comes to being prepared. In Australia, we are luckier than most countries with Medicare offering coverage for basic requirements. Although be aware that Medicare can often only cover a certain amount of your medical costs.

It does provide access to lower cost to certain prescriptions and free treatment and hospital accommodation as a public patient in a public hospital. There is also access to certain medical services which are available for all eligible Australian residents and in some cases visitors

Be aware that if you are waiting to have surgery or treatment which is not considered an emergency that waiting periods can often apply. For eligible residents, there can also be free or subsidised treatment by health professionals such as doctors, specialists, optometrists, and in specific circumstances, dentists, and other allied health practitioners.

Even if you are covered by private health care you will get back 75% of the Medicare Schedule fee for services and procedures if you are a private patient in a public or private hospital (hospital accommodation and items such as theatre fees and medicines are not included).

If you or your family have higher than average medical expenses then the Medicare Safety Net can provide more money back in your pocket for the rest of the calendar year if you need to continue to purchase certain medication. If you have an official Australian Government concession card, you can pay even less.


The option of private health insurance

Of course, Medicare doesn’t cover every medical situation, in particular those dental and procedures which are considered ‘non-essential’ but can still impact majorly on your quality of life. So, why should you consider getting private health insurance? If you or your family pay for private health insurance, you may be eligible for the Australian Government Private Health Insurance Rebate on your premiums. 

Having private health insurance is an investment but can work out to be a long-term cost effective method of protecting against unexpected issues. It can also provide you with more control over your health care and give you peace of mind. Even if you don’t have a personal history of serious illness you never know what might happen in the future.

Bills can add up quickly if you require several treatments or long-term health support. This is where private health insurance can help. There are a huge variety of options so it is important to do your research and ensure you choose the right cover for you. Thoroughly read through disclosure statements so you know what exactly you’ll be covered for.

Of course private health insurance can be costly. However, there are ways to help you reduce the cost of your insurance. There are federal government initiatives formulated to help you with the cost of health insurance. For example, if you don’t have hospital cover, you may have to pay an additional surcharge at tax time


Preparing a ‘health budget’

It’s also important to have a savings plan in place to ensure you have a ‘financial buffer’ in case of emergencies. Set aside a regular amount of money, such as $300 or 10 per cent of your salary, for extra healthcare expenses. Aim to regularly look over your budget every year and if you don’t use this money keep it in a savings account for the future.

Remember, a single physio appointment could cost $90 so it doesn’t take long to go through savings if you have an injury. And remember that even if you have private health there are often out of pocket expenses. Even stocking up on cold medicine from the chemist can set you back an easy $100 in cold season. Without putting a health plan in place a serious health issue could cost your life savings.

The key to future-proofing your health fund is to save a little regularly and don’t touch this account unless you need to. Then you can relax knowing you are covered whatever the future holds.