We interrupt this road trip for another reprint of an Australian and New Zealand magazine article.
Well, a couple of reasons. Firstly, we are due another reprint, I like to do them every four weeks. And this article is a follow-up to the last one from June 1 which was called Going to the Doctors: Australia and UK Compared.
The second reason is that yesterday I picked Mrs Bob and Elizabeth up from Cairns Airport and they have now joined me on this road trip. We are just are about to go out from meal, so posting an article I prepared earlier is going to get us to the restaurant quicker. I think that’s a pretty good reason on its own.
This appeared in the magazine’s April edition this year.
Going to hospital
Last year, all of a sudden, I found I had difficulty walking. I certainly couldn’t jog let alone run, something that I had been able to do reasonably well before, honest. Turns out my spinal cord was being compressed by my own vertebrae. My mobility was deteriorating quite rapidly and as the experts put it, I was literally one minor trauma away from spending the rest of my life in a wheelchair.
You know the sort of thing, young driver, busy texting or updating their Facebook page and running straight into the back of me patiently waiting in my car at a red traffic light. Bang! “Sorry mate, I was texting, my bad!”
Yeah great, thanks.
Private health insurance
According to information I found online, private health insurance in the UK is declining. Current take up rates are around 11% at best, it may be as low as 8.7%. Here in Australia, it’s a very different story. Take-up rates are about 50%. Family cover, provided mum and dad are not yet 31 years of age, cost around $250 per month after the government’s rebate.
Those over 31 will pay a loading on their premium, 2% for every additional year is my understanding. Here’s a tip though, if you arrive in Australia as a new permanent resident and take out cover within 12 months, you won’t pay that loading no matter your age. Unfortunately we didn’t know that rule, and with me being 49 when we arrived, by the time we did look into private insurance my loading was quite savage.
So that’s why we didn’t get private insurance.
Most Australians who can afford insurance go for it because it gives them more choice. They can choose the doctor, hospital and their preferred appointment time, as well as receiving those healthy rebates from the government. Despite the high take-up of private health insurance here though, Australia does have a very good public hospital system.
So why did I pay just over $33,000 to have my operation done privately? Ah, let’s say I was unlucky.
The one public surgeon recommended to me for the operation was on holiday. Trust me to need an urgent operation during Melbourne Cup week. Although he promised he would operate as soon as he possibly could on his return, it meant a delay of around 7 to 10 days compared to the date given to me by the private surgeon.
Did I want a wheelchair that bad? No, so I paid the money.
But hold on a minute, let’s just do the maths here. I’ve been living in Australia for eight years now, I’ve not been paying that health insurance. Even if I had secured it before that loading, I would have been paying $3000 per year. So far then I’ve saved $24,000.
Like most insurance companies, they don’t actually pay for everything. Some don’t pay for the anaesthetist, for example. Who knows what else they don’t pay for, you’d need to check the small print. Most charge some kind of excess. Bottom line is you won’t get 100% of everything back, so in reality, I’ve probably broken even.
NB. Some temporary visa holders will require medical insurance.
Jagoda asked a very interesting question in the very first comment on this post. He wondered what the deal was with dental treatment. As part of the answer, I included a link to the following post which you may find useful: