We may all have to wait until 1 July before we’re able to know which way the health insurance system will turn. Away from private health cover and onto the public system, or will more than 400,000 Australians currently holding private health cover decide to stick with it?
From a personal perspective, we in the Cook household – a grand total of two these days – will opt out. Why? Cost, pure and simple. We’re a single income family earning what is supposedly classed as an average household income. I’d debate that, but for the purposes of this piece, we’ll say it’s ‘average’. Until today, we were paying just over $215/month for basic hospital cover with a $500 excess, plus ancillaries cover for spectacles, dental, etc. That’s over $2,500 per annum, and neither of us has had a claim for anything other than dental or spectacles in the past ten years. Even the dental work we both had ages back, as expensive as it seemed at the time, amounted to $2,000, of which we received a hefty rebate, given my wife worked for our health insurer at the time. That aside, over ten years, we’ve shelled out some $25,000 and claimed, at most, around $3,000 tops.
We were both working back then, but now it’s down to what your’s truly makes. Health insurance has risen markedly over the time, and our claims are minor. Today, my other half cancelled the hospital cover on the basis of the federal government announcement of the doubling in the Medicare income threshold and adjustment of benefits. Even if we have to wait until Conservatism looses it’s teeth in the Senate, under Labor we’re virtually assured of some recompense for what we’re forced to pay in the Medicare levy.
That leaves us with the ancillaries cover only. That’s $70/month. $840/annum. We usually both get a set of spectacles every 12 to 18 months. Our teeth are good, and we take pains to take care for them, so all up, our annual eye care costs amount to around $600. Am I making a case here? We’ll both get new specs this year and then it’s bye! bye! private health insurance cover.
We can’t afford to subsidise other users of private health insurance cover. It’s that simple. Other people who aren’t as lucky as we are (yes, I realise I used the term ‘lucky’ and it’s connotations) make more claims on their insurance, and good on them for doing so if they need to, but for us, that $2,500/annum, and climbing, is money we can no longer afford to pay out on the off-chance that we might be hospitalised. Frankly, I’ve seen both parents in the public system over the past several years, and while my Dad died as a result of an infection incurred in that system, I’d say his case was relatively rare. He was 82, and suffering emphysema, after all. The public system is not as bad as many would have us believe. Certainly, it’s not you-beaut-private-room, hot-and-cold-running care, but it is care and very good care. If you’re in hospital, you’re clearly ill, so does the environment matter all that much? It’s the care and attention which matters, and from my experience, I have no problems in that arena. Shared ward or private room, at the end of the day, if you’re crook, you’re crook. No plasma TV or single room dunny is going to make you feel any better.
I’m left wondering, especially after listening to ABC Radio National’s "Australia Talks" earlier this week, just how many Australian’s will think and act as we have? On the basis of that program, not many, but then, judging by the demographic which called into the program – still had children, between 35 & 45 – perhaps it wasn’t very representative. Time will tell, I suppose, but for us at least, we’ll be better off financially.