Australians spent a whopping 29 billion dollars on individual healthcare in 2015-2016 (table 3.1, page 23), with our biggest areas of spend were dental (20%) and 'other medications' (32%) (table 3.8, page 35). What 'other medications' includes is liable to make you apologise to your wallet, but we'll touch on that later.
Is our personal spend aligning with our most pressing health problems? Cancers, and specifically lung cancer, are the leading causes of death, followed by cardiovascular diseases. Further, 50% of Australians' reported having at least one of these chronic diseases:
- back pain
- Cardiovascular disease
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
- Mental health conditions
Health problems and their resulting costs may be inevitable, but for our most common ailments, there are easy ways to reduce risks and cut down on unnecessary spending.
5 ways to medical costs down
1. Try to keep healthy and fit
Eat healthy, exercise regularly, schedule recommended health checks, put a helmet on when riding a bike, visit the dentist or hygienist regularly.
Making health a priority a top priority has knock-on expense effects. Losing weight, for example, can help you sleep better, feel better, and even reverse type 2 diabetes.
2. Explore generics when filling a presciption
Not all medications will have a generic option, but it is always good to ask your doctor or chemist. Generic medication must be a “bio-equivalent” of the original medication and it can be either a true clone of the brand leader or it may have differences in the types of colouring, fillers or possibly have minor changes in the level of active ingredients.
While generics are safe and less expensive, it is always best to check with your doctor about switching from name brand to generic – your doctor can advise the best type of medication for your needs.
3. Shop around and do your research
When it comes to things like glasses and contact lenses, remember you don’t need to buy directly from your optometrist or ophthalmologist. Providing you have a copy of your prescription, you can shop around to find your cheapest option. CBHS members have access to a range of discounts from optical providers, like OPSM, VSP, Clearly, Specsavers and more.
Also do your research into the Australian Government’s Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, which lists all medicines available at a Government-subsidised price. This list is updated on a monthly basis and available online.
4. Save on supplements
There is not enough data available to confirm whether or not supplements are as beneficial as manufacturers would have you believe. Dietary supplements may seem like a smart way to optimise your health, but not every person benefits from them in the same way as another.
Before you spend money on supplements, you should consult your healthcare provider or pharmacist for advice on if you are likely to need a supplement.
5. Take medication only as advised by your doctor
Medication, when prescribed and taken on the advice of your doctor, will usually help. However, misuse of medication can have side effects or set you back in your recovery, leading to more medications and doctors’ visits. It is very important to follow your doctor’s instructions and to be aware of safety issues around your medication. Wellness requires a holistic approach - including bed rest, taking the correct dose of medication and completing courses of antibiotics correctly. It is also important to let your medical professional know if you are taking other medications and supplements, contraceptives or have existing medical conditions that may have an adverse effect on recovery. Your doctor will advise the correct way to take your medication and other steps to ensure you recover quickly.
Whenever you are given a new medication, Better Health, Victoria recommends you ask your doctor these questions:
• What is the appropriate dosage – how much should I take, how often should I take it and at what times of day?
• Should I take the medicine on a full or empty stomach?
• Do I need to swallow the pills whole or can they be crushed or chewed?
• What should I do if I miss a dose?
• For how long should I take the medication?
• Are there problems with taking the medicine if I have a particular condition?
• What are the possible side effects, such as drowsiness, and how can I manage these?
• What are the signs and symptoms of serious reactions that I need to watch out for?
• Are there potential interactions with other medicines I take or may take?
• Can I have a Consumer Medicine Information leaflet?
Ways to keep health Insurance costs down
Health insurance is a great way to save on medical costs, but you need to be smart when making choices about your health cover. Ways to save on private health insurance include:
1. Make Sure Your Policy Is Up To Date
It is a good idea to review your policy and ensure it is up to date for your needs, family situation and more. At CBHS you can customise your extras cover or review the package you are on. Contact our Member Care team to discuss your membership. This way you know you are paying the right amount and getting the insurance cover that is best for you.
2. Make the most of government benefits
The Australian Government has put a number of initiatives in place, designed to get Australians covered by private health insurance. As well as offering a rebate on your insurance premium, you may be able to avoid the Medicare Levy Surcharge come tax time by taking out private health insurance. Visit the ATO for more information.
3. Get Private Hospital Cover sooner rather than later
Taking out cover before you turn 31 can help to avoid a 2% per annum Lifetime Health Cover (LHC) Loading on your premiums. Contact CBHS Member Care Team to discuss Hospital Cover to suit your life stage and budget, or visit the ATO website for more information.
4. If switching, make sure your new policy covers everything you need
There will always be a new gimmick trying to pull you into what could be the wrong policy, so don’t be fooled into signing something based on the promise of the latest fitness tracker or theme park tickets for the family. Find the policy you actually need, not the one being most heavily promoted. Things to look out for when switching are cost of premiums,
Chat with one of our Member Care consultants online today here if you’d like to talk about which private health insurance policy is right for your current needs.
Finding a health insurance agency you can trust is crucial to finding a policy that best suits your needs. CBHS was established by the CBA Group in 1951, and while we have since separated from the Commonwealth Bank, we still retain the same core purpose. That purpose is to look after the health and wellbeing of all our policyholders, ensuring policies are well matched to suit life’s different stages.
Join CBHS today, or refer an eligible family member, and start enjoying greater benefits and lower costs.
All information contained in this article is intended for general information purposes only. The information provided should not be relied upon as medical advice and does not supersede or replace a consultation with a suitably qualified medical practitioner. CBHS endeavours to provide independent and complete information, and content may include information regarding services, products and procedures not covered by CBHS Health Cover policies. For full terms, click here.