2019 Health Reforms: Bronze health insurance policies
On 1 April 2019 a new product tier system will be introduced for hospital cover. This will make policies easier to compare by standardising the minimum requirements for each level of cover.
Ahead, we’ll cover the Bronze tier and what you can expect when shopping for health insurance under the new system.
- The new health insurance tier system will help make comparing policies a lot easier, by making policy inclusions and exclusions more transparent.
- Bronze health insurance is generally the second-cheapest tier of health insurance (of four tiers).
- Although Bronze is only one tier above Basic, it offers a long list of benefits that Basic coverage does not.
What is the Health Insurance Tier System?
The government is implementing a series of health insurance reforms in order to make health insurance easier to understand and shop for. These reforms are also intended to combat the ongoing rise in cost for health insurance policies.
Research has shown that many Australians don’t have a good understanding of what’s covered by their policy. This confusion is due in part to the lack of standardisation for health insurance, where each insurer can offer a different range of benefits.
The new tier system simplifies hospital cover products, so you know what’s covered by each tier. Health funds will now put their hospital policies into tiers: Basic, Bronze, Silver, and Gold. The tiers do not apply to extras cover.
Each policy must meet minimum coverage requirements to be classified as a certain tier. Health funds can offer cherry-picked additional benefits if they choose to, but it’s not required. These ‘in-between’ tiers are known as ‘Plus’: Basic Plus, Bronze Plus, and Silver Plus.
What is Bronze Tier Health Insurance?
Bronze health insurance is the second lowest tier of health insurance that will be on the market starting in April. That is not to say that Bronze health insurance doesn’t have ample coverage.
When you compare it to Basic coverage, Bronze coverage is a giant step up. You will receive the same Basic care of rehabilitation, hospital psychiatric services, and palliative care and a long list of other benefits.
Note that these three clinical categories—Rehabilitation, hospital psychiatric services, and palliative care—can be offered on a restricted basis. There must be some level of cover for these categories, but the level of benefits can be set by the fund and may vary.
You will likely see some health funds offering procedures like lung and chest, heart and vascular system, or others that are usually found in the Silver policies. These will probably be considered ‘Bronze Plus’ policies.
The graphic above shows the minimum requirements for a Bronze plan, but providers can offer other benefits to attract new customers.
Who is Bronze Health Insurance For?
The Bronze tier might only be the second lowest level of health insurance, but it covers you for a range of categories. Bronze is a huge step up from Basic, and the benefits that come along with it are valuable.
That said, Bronze isn’t for everyone. These policies are best for Australians who want to protect themselves from general injuries or common diagnoses.
These policies aren’t as expensive as some of the top-tier ones, so that can make them attractive. However, always weigh the price up against the benefits offered. Here are a few groups who might think about buying Bronze coverage.
Those who live an active lifestyle will probably want to consider a Bronze health insurance policy. Bronze offers many benefits that aren’t available in a Basic policy, like cover for bone, joint and muscle procedures. It also provides cover for health conditions like cancer or problems with the brain and nervous system.
Those who have slightly risky or dangerous jobs may benefit from joint reconstructions or pain management services. The same goes for people who participate in sports or are highly active.
Bronze is an excellent level of coverage for healthy, active individuals. It provides enough benefits to protect you from common accidents and health problems but costs less than Gold or Silver policies.
Those Who Need General Health Procedures (Men and Women)
Men and women both benefit from Bronze health insurance. Women receive coverage for gynaecological procedures, medically needed breast surgery, and cancer treatment. Men can get prostate care and protection against cancer as well.
Bronze is one of the better “general health” tiers since it won’t cost as much as the comprehensive policies and still offers cover for many treatments.
Men and women both can benefit from chemotherapy and radiation if they develop cancer. Cancer is a leading killer in Australia, and no one is safe from developing it. It’s essential to have coverage in case you need it down the line.
Those At Risk of Developing Diabetes
Around 1.7 million Australians have diabetes. Some people are more at risk of developing type 2 diabetes, but some have it since birth.
Those who have diabetes will need at least Bronze coverage if they want to receive benefits for their treatment.
We should note, though, that the Bronze tier does not cover insulin pumps. These are only required to be covered under the Gold tier, so you may want to consider upgrading if you think the savings will add up in the long run.
Healthy, Young, Single Australians
As we’ve covered, Bronze is the best level of coverage for active individuals. A regular young, single, healthy Australian can benefit from the routine procedures offered in the Bronze tier, as well as the peace of mind that comes with knowing you’re covered for more.
Bronze policies don’t offer much in the way of family planning, so they cater more towards the young, single demographic. Those who are expecting to start a family in the near future should consider upgrading to Silver Plus with pregnancy cover or Gold.
Still, Bronze is a fantastic catch-all for general health and is something that you should consider if you’re looking towards the future. Remember that many procedures have waiting periods, so you need to have the right insurance for all of your unexpected medical issues.
Are you ready to start shopping for health insurance under the new system? Take a look at our comparison tool below!
Disclaimer: The above information is correct and current at the time of publication
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