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Changes to Health Insurance for Seniors

July 13th, 2011 0 comments
Senior healthcare

As you get older, it’s only natural that concerns about your health increase. If you don’t have private health insurance or don’t have the right insurance for your needs, you could find yourself being hit with unwelcome medical bills at a time when you’re already becoming financially vulnerable.

Image by Rosie O'Beirne

Taking Out Private Hospital Cover for the First Time

If you’ve decided to take out private hospital cover after the July following your 31st birthday, LHC loading fees of 2 per cent for every year that you’ve delayed past your 30th birthday are added on top of your premiums (up to a maximum loading of 70 per cent). For most seniors looking to take out hospital cover for the first time, loading fees will make this a much more expensive proposition in comparison to those who arranged it earlier in their lives, unless you were born before July 1st 1934, in which case LHC loading fees don’t apply to you at all as you’re exempt from them.

If you don’t already have private hospital cover and are earning in excess of $77,000 for singles or $154,000 for couples and families, you’ll be obliged to pay a Medical Levy Surcharge (MLS). To avoid this, you need to arrange private hospital cover with a registered health fund that has a low front-end deductible or an excess that equates to no more than $500 per year for singles and $1000 per year for couples and families.

Recent Health Insurance Changes affect Seniors

Proposed changes to the health insurance rebates and the MLS in July 2011 will affect senior couples as follows:

  • For couples/ families who have a joint income of below $150,000, there is a 35 per cent rebate for those aged 65-69 and a 40 per cent rebate for those over 70 with no MLS charge.
  • For couples/families who earn between $150,001 and $180,000, the rebate drops to 25 per cent for those aged between 65 and 69 and 30 per cent for those over 70 witho an MLS charge of 1 per cent.
  • For couples/families who earn between $180,001 and $240,000, the rebate decreases to 15 per cent for those aged between 65 and 69 and 20 per cent for those over 70 with an MLS charge of 1.25 per cent.
  • For couples/families who earn over $240,000, no rebate will be on offer regardless of age, with an MLS charge of 1.5 per cent.

Is Your Existing Coverage Adequate?

Changing health needs as you get older mean that existing health insurance policies may need to be reviewed to make sure they are still relevant to your needs. Extras such as cardiac cover, cataract cover and joint replacement cover weren’t of great interest to you in your younger days, but as you  age these become more of a priority. Generally speaking, it’s advisable to look for a policy that doesn’t have many exclusions and restrictions attached to it, so that you’re covered for a broad range of potential situations.

Your health fund may impose a 12-month waiting period for pre-existing conditions, so this is something you should think about before you actually need these types of cover. If you leave it too late, you may not be eligible until some time after you need the cover.

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