Sunday, March 01, 2009

HealthCare

At the top of my blog, I have been counting down to St Patrick's Day. This has some significance as it is my birthday and this year I will be 65 and a senior citizen in the eyes of the Government.
In Australia we have had Medicare since the mid 1970's.
We all pay 1.5% of income levy on our tax.
When we attend a doctor, the fee may be bulkbilled in which we pay nothing and the doctor accepts the amount paid by the Government. Often we pay the doctor but take the receipt to the Medicare office and receive a rebate. I pay my usual doctor (now $55 a visit) and receive about $38 back. I sometimes go to the Medical centre and pay nothing but cannot book and usually wait for over an hour.
Hospitals can be free but you have to accept any doctor and if it is non-urgent you may have to wait a very long time (even a year).

Therefore I also have Private Medical Insurance. I now pay $120 per month for top cover. The Government subsidises this by 30% and the company cannot charge me more due to my age. (I will miss this when I move to NZ).

Thankfully I have not had to use this very often. I do get a new pair of glasses nearly every year which would be almost free except I have bifocals and transition lenses.
I get about 30% back from dental charges. When I had a back operation in 2003, I only paid $250 excess (once per year) as my doctor accepted the payment but many do not. The physiotherapy and all hospital charges were covered.

When I went to emergency with a heart scare (thankfully groundless) I was kept in overnight and it would have been free even without medical insurance but, as I elected to allow them to bill my insurance, I received a free morning newspaper and a cab fare back to the railway station :-).

However now I am to reach the age of 65 and will be eligible for a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card. There is an income test but it is quite high, about double my income. My regular doctor will now also bulk bill me for visits and my monthly prescription medicine bill will drop from over $120 to about $20. I will also get assistance with my telephone bill and money to assist with council rates, car registration and electricity. Worth counting down the days.
But there is more. I may be eligible for an Old Age Pension. More on this tomorrow.

2 comments:

Grandmère Mimi said...

Brian, you have more advantages as a senior than those of us in the US, although it seems a lot to keep track of.

The one thing that I am quite satisfied with here is our health care under Medicare.

toujoursdan said...

It sounds much more complicated than the Canadian system I am used to, but it sounds like you may get faster treatment. In Canada everyone gets a provincial healthcard and you never pay out of pocket unless you seek non-emergency care in another province.

But you may have faster service than we do. There is a push to introduce some kind of fee-care or wrap around private insurance. So far, it hasn't gone anywhere because there is a fear that wealthy people would get better
care than the poor.