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How does private health insurance work?
Private health insurance helps to cover costs of health care when you choose to be treated as a private patient. In addition to covering services paid by Medicare, it also provides cover for some medical services not usually covered by the public system. There are two main types of private health insurance available: hospital cover and extras cover (sometimes called general or ancillary cover).
Hospital cover contributes towards doctor’s charges and hospital accommodation when admitted as a private patient into either a private or public hospital. The extent to which you are covered depends upon your policy. Private health insurers use the terms ‘Top, Medium, Basic and Public’ to describe the level of hospital cover provided.
Extras (General or Ancillary) cover helps with the cost of services such as physiotherapy, dental, optical & alternative treatment. The terms ‘Comprehensive, Medium and Basic’ are often used to describe the different tiers of extras cover. Some funds offer a ‘package’ of products that combine both hospital and extras cover that can save you money.
You may also require Ambulance cover (depending upon which state you live in) otherwise you could be liable for the cost of ambulance transport. In Queensland and Tasmania, emergency ambulance services are provided free by the State Government. New South Wales and Australian Capital Territory provide free ambulance cover for pensioners and low income earners only.
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