At a glance
By Beth Wallace
According to the latest National Health Survey by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, almost 50 per cent of Australians have a chronic illness, many of which are preventable.
Controllable risk factors, including smoking, physical inactivity and poor diet, contribute to conditions such as heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes – ailments that can affect quality of life and require long-term care.
It is widely acknowledged that, to reduce the incidence of chronic illness, a proactive approach to healthcare is required, in which risk factors are curbed before they lead to illness.
Yet, with only 1.34 per cent of the nation’s health expenditure dedicated to preventative health, it is no wonder many Australians turn to the preventative services covered by health insurance extras (general treatment) policies to safeguard their wellbeing.
David Brajkovic, executive general manager of Australian Unity Private Health Insurance, explains that while hospital cover is a sound investment in mitigating potentially high costs of treatment in private hospitals and significantly shortening waiting times for many procedures compared to the public system, the extras component of health insurance can be put to use on a regular basis.
“Extras give people a way to get value out of private health insurance every day,” he says.
Ensuring future health
Extras products typically provide benefits for services such as physiotherapy, optical and dental, but there is an assortment of other preventative health programs available. These include weight loss, fitness and quit-smoking programs.
For Brajkovic, investing in an extras product that covers such services is cost-effective over time.
“There’s definitely a correlation between preventative health, early intervention and future savings in healthcare costs for individuals, as well as improved health outcomes,” he says.
Dental cover, for example, doesn’t just make dental care affordable; in 2017-2018, about 72,000 hospitalisations for dental conditions may have been averted with earlier intervention. Preventative dental treatment plans lower the occurrence of tooth decay and gum disease (and costly corrective procedures), as well as chronic illnesses linked to poor oral health, such as stroke and cardiovascular disease.
Getting more from your health insurance
When researching extras options, it is important to consider your lifestyle and the kinds of services that will help you achieve your health goals. Perhaps you play sport and require regular physiotherapy appointments, have back problems or want to take better care of your teeth. Look for a product that offers benefits in these areas, and be sure to check the claim limits for each.
Once you have chosen a product, you can quickly experience its value by taking advantage of all relevant services included with that product, whether that’s booking dental check-ups, buying new prescription glasses or attending physical health sessions.
“By tracking usage on the Australian Unity Health app, it’s easy to quickly see the value that is being generated by the product,” Brajkovic says.
Given that our health needs change over time, Brajkovic urges people not to “set and forget” their policy.
“We find that the people who get the most out of their products are the ones who do a right cover check periodically,” he says.
“Have a conversation about what you’ve used, what you want to use going forward, any lifestyle or life-stage changes and then choose your cover accordingly.”
Special offer for new members
Australian Unity has a limited-time offer for new members, which includes six weeks free* when you sign up for hospital and extras cover by 30 September, with all two-month and optical waiting periods for extras waived^. CPA members can also enjoy a 7.5 per cent ongoing discount#. When you call, don’t forget to say you’re part of the Australian Unity partner network to receive the discount.
*New members on new memberships. 6 weeks free applied after 60th day of paid Australian Unity membership. Offer ends 30 September 2020. Full T&Cs at australianunity.com.au/tcs
^ All other waiting periods still apply. Offer ends 30 September 2020. Full T&Cs at australianunity.com.au/tcs
#7.5% discount includes all retail discounts and is available only when paying by direct debit. The discount is not available through brokers or comparators, and excludes Overseas Visitor Cover.
To take advantage of Australian Unity’s limited-time special health insurance offer, visit www.australianunity.com.au/cpa or phone 1300 302 422.