There can be many reasons why you want to start using private healthcare. To have more choice over your hospital treatment, or to avoid larger premiums once you cross the 30-year-old lifetime health cover threshold, for instance.
However, if you have a pre-existing medical condition, you may feel like you are unable to find a policy. It is not uncommon for people to shy away from even enquiring about private health insurance simply because they think they won't be accepted.
This is not so; it is one of the myths that plague the industry and causes people to gamble with their healthcare needs.
A little clarification can go a long way in ensuring you are protected for any medical issues. Here's what you need to know:
What is a pre-existing medical condition?
As the name suggests, this is a health issue you have before taking out health insurance. While some consider themselves uninsurable because of it, this is not true.
Each health insurer and policy will have a determination of what a pre-existing condition is. Generally speaking, it is a health issue that a person has shown symptoms of in the six months previous to taking out health insurance.
It does not have to be diagnosed, however, and if you are aware of the symptoms of a condition, you should tell your insurer before continuing with your policy discussions.
When do I disclose a pre-medical condition?
It is important to tell your insurance broker of any conditions or symptoms while creating a policy. Not doing so can leave you without cover should you try to claim on that condition once your policy is in place. The likely result of this is being refused non-emergency treatment, or affording it yourself.
The insurer/broker relies on you to supply all the information you can regarding your health. They can then use it to ensure you will be covered for your treatment of any health conditions in the future.
What happens if I have a pre-existing condition
Many people believe they will not be covered by the private health system if they have a pre-existing health issue, though it is actually illegal for any health fund to do so.
They are required by law to look after and cover your needs. Instead of a refusal, the policy may contain a stipulation such as delaying the coverage of certain conditions for a set period of time.
How long will my waiting period be?
Any new client taking out an insurance policy will need to serve a waiting period before claiming benefits on their policy. However, these are slightly different for a person with a pre-existing condition.
The majority of health insurance providers will apply a standard term to new members taking out hospital cover. This includes a 12-months standard wait for benefits on pre-existing issues – including pregnancy.
What else do I need to know?
Considering the effect pre-existing conditions can have on your policy, there are advantages to getting your health insurance needs in order sooner rather than later.
It's no secret that we become more susceptible to health issues as we grow older, and policyholders are more likely to avoid pre-existing condition complications should they arrange their health insurance earlier on in life and before any conditions become a problem.
If you are thinking of changing your policy to a new provider – as it can often be financially rewarding to do so – it will also be necessary to discuss this with your health insurance broker to make sure a new provider covers your existing condition.
Perhaps most importantly, you should never be put off applying for health insurance – regardless of your condition – or you could miss out on valuable care.
If you have any concerns regarding a pre-existing medical condition, get in touch with HICA today on 1300 44 22 01 and discuss your options with an industry professional.