Australians are lucky when it comes to health care. When illness or injury strikes, there is no question regarding your access to health care, whether or not you own private health insurance.
The Australian government guarantees that everyone is entitled to Medicare to help cover many medical needs; but few people realize what the limits of their Medicare coverage are, and where private health cover fits into the equation.
When you don’t have a solid understanding of the difference between what Medicare covers and what your health insurance covers, it’s difficult to make the best decisions for yourself and your family when it comes to planning for the future and protecting your finances if an unexpected illness or injury disrupts your lives. By comparing health plans, you can get a better idea of how much private health coverage actually costs, and what it can do for you.
Who needs private health coverage? Doesn’t Medicare cover all of your health insurance needs? What if you’re a young couple or family with no reason to worry about health issues?
It’s important to start by understanding how Medicare works, and what coverage it does and does not provide.
Medicare was introduced in Australia in 1984 as the country’s public health cover system, guaranteeing access to free or low-cost medical and hospital care for every Australian citizen and permanent resident.
The Medicare system offers access to a public hospital and treatment by a hospital appointed physician. While Australians receive excellent care through the Medicare system, there are little to no options when it comes to selecting the hospital in which you will be treated, or even when you will be admitted.
Under Australia’s Medicare program, any treatment that does not fall into the “emergency” category is considered to be elective, which places patients on a long public hospital waiting list to be seen.
Australians can improve their health care situation by purchasing private health cover to augment Medicare, which you retain even when your private health plan takes effect. When your health insurance strategy includes a private policy in addition to Medicare benefits, you have the option to choose treatment as either a private or public patient in a private or public hospital. The decision is up to you.
People with private health coverage earn choice and flexibility when it comes to their own care. Your health insurance allows you to choose the physician or specialist responsible for your treatment, the schedule for admission to the hospital for treatment, and quicker access to any elective surgery you may be having.
In a statement made by Texas State Representative John Smittee, “You look at the cost of health care in general and it’s increasing faster than the cost of living.” According to a Commonwealth Fund report, we have seen individual Texas health insurance premiums increase by almost 50 percent in the past eight years. The rise in family and group Texas health insurance plan premiums was even greater. A 2011 survey conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that the cost of giving health benefits to employees increased by 118 percent for large firms and 103 percent for small firms in the past 10 years.
Health Savings Accounts Made Available To Texans
Under the “IRC Section 223” or state “Qualifying High Deductible Health Plan,” certain high-deductible Texas insurance plans are allowed to pair with a Health Savings Account or HSA. Health Savings Accounts started back in 2004. Since then, there had been an influx in people enrolling in HSA plans. Health Savings Accounts are available to Texans who buy their own TX health insurance plan, who are self-employed or who have employer-provided HSA plans.
In a study by United Benefit Advisors it showed that HSA-qualified plans have fewer and lower rate hikes as well as lower premiums compared to traditional health care plans. The rate of HSA premium increases is one third to one half that of what traditional plans has been. Results showed that the cost of HSA plans had only risen by an average of 3.4 percent while premiums for all plans combined increased an average of 9.6 percent in 2005 alone.
Between 2004 and 2005, Health Savings Account plan premiums increased by an average of 2.8 percent while the combined cost of Texas health plans rose by 7.3 percent as affirmed by a survey released by the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions.
Employers And Employees Can Both Benefit From A Health Savings Account
Since Health Savings Accounts started, many employers have realized that switching from group coverage to Health Savings Account plans offered in the individual market increases their savings that permit them to fund an HSA for every employee. Thanks to the new health care reform law, HSA plans now cover preventive health care from in-network providers with no out-of-pocket costs. This is even before the policyholder meets their deductible. If the medical expenses are not covered by their health insurance plan, employees can withdraw HSA money tax-free to pay for qualified medical expenses.