Disability is a wide and complex topic, and can be a difficult subject to talk about. Whether from birth or from an incident later in life, disability can make a huge difference to how you interact with the world and the people within it – and, of course, vice versa.
As Australians live longer, disability will shortly become less of an outlier and more of an expected part of life, especially in old age. However, with the right cover, living with disability does not have to be difficult.
How common is disability?
According to recent research from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), there were 4.3 million Australians with some kind of disability – that's about one in five people. This grows to one in two when considering people over 65. The study considered considers a wide range of different disabilities, such as blindness, deformity, mental illness or learning difficulties – in all cases, however, the disability restricted everyday activities in some way.
"While in line with expectations due to population growth, this increase in the number of Australians living with disability has important implications for service provision," said Justine Boland, ABS Program Manager of Health and Disability Services.
This increasing demand for disability services and care presents an important section of the population for healthcare providers and insurers. This rise in overall disability, particularly in the older generation, puts forward an important question for younger Australians as well: should disability occur, now or later, are you fully covered by your private health insurance? What kind of differences would disability make to your standard of living?
The financial effect
It is also important to remember that we are an ageing population.
Disability of any kind can put a strain on your personal finances, particularly if the issue comes unexpectedly. A fall, a complication, an accident – all of these things could result in profound disability, potentially eliminating your ability to perform in the labour force to the same level. Just over half of the disabled population in Australia participates in the work force, compared to 83 per cent of those without disability, according to the ABS. They were also more likely to be employed on a part-time basis rather than full time, or lack employment entirely.
Furthermore, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare has found that people with disabilities were far more likely to suffer further health issues such as obesity, arthritis and mental health conditions than the rest of the populace. This ultimately could end up costing a great deal in medical services, treatments and outside care, particular if you have forgone comparing your health insurance and aren't covered for something in particular.
The way forward
Likely due to more advanced medical research and subsequent treatments, disability in Australia on the whole is reducing. In 2009, the rate of disability after removing age factors was 17.7 per cent, while in 2015 it was lower at 17 per cent. This bodes well for the future of the bodily health of Australians, but it is also important to remember that we are an ageing population.
By 2040, the Treasury predicts that the proportion of people aged over 65 will almost double to 25 per cent of the population. Without significant advances in medicine, the resulting influence of additional aged disability could put a strain on the health system, potentially making it difficult for those in need of treatment to receive the level of care they need.
This highlights the need for even young Australians to start considering how their health insurance will cover them in later life. The start of that is speaking to the experts at HICA for assistance and to discover the range of products suitable for your situation. Call us on 1300 44 22 01 for a free and obligation-free chat.