Is Private Hospital Cover Worth It?

In this brief article, well concentrate purely on the news about elective surgery waiting times, specifically in NSW.

Once a year, most people look into their finances and ask themselves, is hospital cover worth it?

Hospital cover does three key things:

  1. Get timely access to important health services, without the long public waiting lists (for services on your cover)
  2. Choose your treating specialist
  3. Avoid paying the Medicare Levy Surcharge – an extra tax for high-income earners

In this brief article, well concentrate purely on the news about elective surgery waiting times, specifically in NSW.

Latest elective surgery waiting times

NSW, SA, WA & TAS have released their elective surgery waiting times (aka planned surgery) for public patients.

One of the biggest drivers of Aussies taking up private hospital cover is the health of the public hospital system – specifically planned (elective) surgery waiting times. Hospital cover is more important than ever.

A key advantage of having private hospital cover is that you can get your planned surgery done in a private hospital with the doctor of your choice as soon as your doctor is ready (it’s usually very speedy).

Private health insurance is designed to take the planned surgery load off the public system and it does this pretty well. A full 66% of all elective surgeries are performed in private hospitals. Demand for public hospitals is increasing at an average of 4.3% and therefore using private hospital cover is a good way to escape the public backlog (more on that below).

How do planned surgery waiting times work as a public patient?

Planned surgeries in public hospitals as a public patient naturally aren’t as urgent as emergency admissions and are prioritised accordingly (although planned surgeries do have clinically recommended timeframes to operate under). The private system is generally much faster.

NSW surgery waiting times

The Sydney Morning Herald led with: “Record numbers of patients waited too long – some over a year – for elective surgery despite operating theatres working in overdrive…” for its report based on January-to-March figures this year from NSW’s Bureau of Health Information.

COVID has obviously played a huge part in surgery waiting times. It’s not fair to judge the public system too harshly and we should give the public system time before their stats look better. However, it is clear that the stats for now in NSW do look far poorer than usual.

A concerning stat is that “Almost 6000 patients had been waiting longer than clinically recommended for their elective procedures on the last day of 2020, more than five times the number of patients waiting too long at the end of 2019 (1144 people).”

Far worse than what was reported, median waiting times for non-urgent elective surgeries (like knee replacements, hip replacements, cataracts etc.) blew out from 260 days to 295 days. And remember that half the people waited longer than that.

Want to learn more about health cover?

Peoplecare has put together this informative 2-minute guide to health cover.

Our health fund partners, Peoplecare, are a national, not-for-profit, multi-award-winning health insurer, renowned in the industry for their exceptional customer service and member satisfaction. Together we have designed this special offer for you.

Join or switch to Peoplecare hospital or combined hospital and extras cover and receive:*

  • one month free membership
  • immediate cover for Extras benefits that usually have a 2 & 6 month waiting period
  • a $50 donation to the McGrath Foundation on your behalf

To talk through their health cover options and see which one suits you, call 1800 808 704 to speak with their friendly team today.

Prefer online – get a quote or join online today.

*T&Cs apply  use promotion code 'CFCU'.

Last updated: 16 July 2021

The information contained in this article is only correct at the point of time of publication. It is general information and has been prepared without taking into account your personal circumstances, objectives or needs. Please consider if this information is right for you before making a decision to acquire any product.

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