Many of Australia's young people are unlikely to have health insurance at the top of their priorities list. In fact, they may not have health matters on their minds at all.
In a study of 400 Year 12 students from universities across Australia, 65 per cent said they felt unprepared for managing their finances.
It's understandable why health issues are less of a priority among many of our younger demographics, with the majority of serious illnesses presenting themselves later in life. Subsequently, they may not consider the importance of private health insurance.
However, past the age of 18, many people may not realise that they are unlikely to be covered by their family health insurance policy (depending on the terms stipulated by the health fund) and that there are still risks for those in the early stages of life that may need medical attention.
It comes down to understanding health risks and budgeting for your insurance needs to protect both your health and your financial future.
AMA warns school leavers
The Australian Medical Association recently urged young people leaving school for summer to look after their own health and that of their friends. Schoolies Week may mostly be coming to an end, but teenagers and 20-something-year-olds should be careful not to overdo it and put themselves at risk of needing medical attention.
For instance, the AMA reported that in 2013:
- 75.2 per cent of school leavers said they got drunk after their studies wrapped up
- 20.5 per cent reported that they passed out
- 24.6 per cent said they have been injured as a result of alcohol consumption.
Be careful not to overindulge; celebrate within your limits, whatever the time of year. Even with a private health insurance policy, you'll ideally not want to use it when that can be avoided.
Leading causes of death in young people
There are other issues besides the health impacts of alcoholism that are a concern to young people. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare found in 2013 that between the ages of 15-24 and 25-44, some health issues are more common that others. Of this demographic, the top three included:
- Suicide (often related to mental health issues)
- Land transport accidents
- Accidental poisoning
Coronary heart diseases and breast cancer also make up the top five in the latter age range, so it's useful to be particularly aware of such medical risks when it comes to taking out health insurance.
Planning for the future
Many young people are very much on the ball when it comes to managing their finances. However, research from the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) shows that others could be better when budgeting – particularly school leavers.
Past the age of 18, many people may not realise that they are unlikely to be covered by their family health insurance policy
In a study of 400 Year 12 students from universities across Australia, 65 per cent said they felt unprepared for managing their finances and didn't have the skills they need to budget effectively once they finish studying. QUT's Dr Chrisann Palm explained the findings.
"Of particular concern is that while 57.3 per cent of respondents considered themselves to have a high understanding of budgeting and 67 per cent a high understanding of saving, only 4.4 per cent of them were able to correctly answer how long it would take to save a certain amount given a budget with income and expenses," she said.
In this respect, some advice and assistance could prove useful to help young people understand and get the most out of their health cover. With health insurance premiums rising, it's sometimes prudent to purchase long-term coverage to lock in the initial rate for a set period of time – such as a year.
If you need help negotiating the often complex health insurance market, HICA is able to offer free assistance to people of all ages. Contact our team today on 1300 44 22 01.