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Last Updated on 7 October 2019

Over 50? Find the right health cover for your changing needs

Over 50s guide to health cover

Taking care of our bodies through proper nutrition and exercise is the best strategy to ward off health issues, and the next tool in your arsenal is good health care. If you’re over 50, it’s time to check whether your health cover is:

  1. Still offering the best value
  2. Supporting your changing needs
  3. Still affordable
  4. Not including old services you no longer use (thus ensuring your premiums remain affordable)
Key Points
  • The Seniors Card and the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card (CSHC) are available to older Aussies, both offering benefits in the way of your health. However, eligibility criteria applies.
  • Medicare provides some healthcare benefits to seniors but they are limited. For example, Medicare offers rebates on certain medications but not all, so it’s important to check whether you’ll need additional cover.
  • As we age, our health needs change, too. This is only natural. Compare policies quickly and easily to ensure you’re getting the most from your cover and your money.

Medicare for Seniors

Medicare looks after the basic health needs of all eligible Australian citizens. This, of course, includes senior citizens with changing health needs. However, Medicare benefits are often limited.

Since the medical needs of seniors may be, on average, greater than the rest of the population, private health insurance is an option those aged 50+ may want to learn more about.

Seniors may require more operations, more prescription medications and more ancillary services. With Medicare, you will be restricted as to which hospitals you can use for an operation and which doctor you can see. You also may not receive cover for certain medications or health services that are important to you.  

Commonwealth Seniors Health Card

If you don’t have a pension, you can apply for the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card. This card is designed for individuals over the age of 65 (pension qualifying age) who do not qualify for a pension and have certain maximum income levels. This card helps with prescription medications and some health services.

To be eligible for this card:

  • You must be of Age Pension qualifying age (65+)
  • You must not be eligible for Age Pension payments or a Veterans’ Pension payment
  • You must meet an income test
  • You must provide your Tax file number to the Australian Department of Human Services
  • You must live in Australia (as either an Australian resident or a special visa holder)
  • You must not work more than a set number of hours per week in paid employment

Benefits of this card include:

  • A reduction in health care costs, including ambulance, dental and eye care
  • Access to cheaper medicine under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme
  • Bulk-billed doctor’s appointments (though this is at the discretion of your doctor)
  • A larger refund for medical costs when you reach the Medicare Safety Net

Seniors Card Info & Discounts 

The seniors card is different to the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card. It presents a range of discounts including transport concessions and other offers on a range of products and services. While each state has their own card, there are varied agreements in place when travelling outside of your state.

Check out the table below to get an idea of the benefits offered by each state’s card:

Over 50s Table

Private Health Insurance for Seniors

Comparing health insurance can help you understand the differences between each private health fund and what their policies can offer you. While every fund sets out to offer you better options for care, each fund has its own premiums, benefits, pros and cons.

If you require extra care or services due to older age, or you’re simply not willing to take risks when it comes to paying for your health, having cover in place may help to offset the extra charges you could encounter.

Private health insurance covers several services in greater need by the senior community that are not covered by Medicare, including:

  • Home nursing
  • Contact lenses and glasses
  • Ambulance
  • Physiotherapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Podiatry

Private Health Insurance Rebate

One important development is government reimbursement for private health insurance. The government encourages people to take out private health insurance and therefore offers a Private Health Insurance Rebate to people who choose to do so. For any private health fund, the government will reimburse you for some of the cost of the policy.

For seniors, that percentage increases. This higher government reimbursement rate helps to make private health insurance more affordable for seniors, who may not be bringing in any income besides a pension. Those who do bring in more income can still take advantage of the reimbursement rate for their private health insurance.

Pre-Existing Conditions

If you have a pre-existing condition, you may have to wait up to 12 months before private cover kicks in. Compare private health insurance funds to evaluate their waiting periods. No health fund, however, can refuse anyone based on age or pre-existing conditions.

Final Thoughts

While Medicare, the Seniors Card and CSHC offer significant discounts and benefits in the way of your health, seniors may need further cover. Thankfully, affordable premiums can be a reality for seniors. Our free comparison tool helps you find and secure a better-value policy for yourself or a loved one.

Comparing health insurance is quick and easy. Get started now and find a better deal.

Disclaimer: The above information is correct and current at the time of publication

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