Why not having private health cover could cost you your quality of life

Why not having private health cover could cost you your quality of life

Perspectives on private health cover

I’m not writing this as a scare tactic or telling you you’re silly because you don’t have private health cover, I know it’s expensive. I simply want to share my perspective on why I believe private health cover is so important and why I wouldn’t forego it myself.

It’s not just my personal experience that leads me to this conclusion, but the number of stories I’ve heard from other people literally waiting for the public health system while they are getting sicker and sicker.

My experience 

Back when I was about 21 years old I experienced the most excruciating pain I had ever experienced in my life. After visiting the doctor and having ultrasounds I found I had gallbladder disease. I had a large number of gallstones sitting in my gallbladder and the gallbladder itself was diseased. I was a healthy young woman with no prior health concerns. It seemed this was a hereditary disease so lovingly passed on through my mum’s side.

The major concern was the gall stones sitting right in the neck of my gallbladder, there was a great risk of these popping out and lodging themselves down in my pancreas. If that were to happen, I would become extremely ill.

Little did I know that at that very time my cover under my parent’s family health insurance had just lapsed and I was not covered privately. For me to go public, I would have to wait quite a while and I needed an operation as soon as possible.  In saying this, I remember a lady I used to work with who actually did wait on the public waiting list to have the surgery I had, she waited months, no less than 4 if I recall. I honestly don’t know how she did it considering the pain and sickness I went through.

My parents were so concerned about the risk that they paid for me to have the surgery privately and I was in surgery the very next day and recovered in a week. I often wonder what would have happened if I had to wait.

Right after this experience I signed up for private health cover and haven’t been without it since.

Other’s experiences 

I read the stories of two women in a private group I’m in and they shocked me.

One woman explained that her husband saw an orthopaedic surgeon on the 18th of January and had an operation shortly after on the 21st of January. When she was finalising the account, there was a patient requiring a similar operation standing next to her while she was finalising the account at reception. She overheard that he didn’t have private health cover and the secretary telling the man that there would be a minimum 9 month wait for the surgery. This lady was grateful that her husband could be out of pain so soon.

Another lady shared her experience with her cancer diagnosis when she did not have private health cover.  She received test results confirming that she did have cancer and her GP informed her that she’d have to wait up to 6 weeks just for the hospital to contact her and tell her when her appointment would be. I just cannot imagine waiting that long to do something if I had cancer. It would put me in a state of despair.

Alternative savings arrangements may put you at risk 

Amongst many discussions, I’ve noticed a great deal of people (including financial advisors) who suggest that instead of taking out private health cover, that it’s a good idea to put away the money into a savings account instead. I personally still cannot understand how this would work, you put yourself at real risk of leaving yourself short.

In my opinion, health insurance is there to manage risk, just like any other insurance. But of course, we hope we never have to claim it, that wouldn’t be a nice situation to be in, but we still need it.

To explain why I feel a savings arrangement instead of private health cover is too high a risk, here’s a real life example of a medical situation.

Let’s say a family puts away $290 a month into a savings account for three years instead of having family health insurance. They do not touch this savings fund at all.  That’s a total of $10,500 accumulated in one year, $31,500 over three years.

Now, let’s use the real-life case of a young 22-year-old woman who was otherwise healthy but discovered she had a random condition of varicose veins on her spine.

The major surgery and expenses were in the region of $65,000. That means that if you were only using a savings plan and the condition appeared after a year, you’d have to find $55,000 instead of having to only find say $10,000 if you were insured. Even if you’d saved three years, you still wouldn’t have sufficient funds to cover the cost.

Yes, of course, you can go public, but how long is the wait? It’s a matter of balancing risk and life.

I get upset when I hear of people having to wait for surgery, the stress and worry they must go through is crazy, especially if it’s a child who is waiting.

What also concerns me is that the long waiting periods in the public system are just going to get longer. The Sydney Morning Herald recently reported that the federal government is concerned about the number of consumers who are abandoning private health and how much pressure it’s putting on the health system. About 500,000 Australians dropped or downgraded their private health policies in the past financial year. That’s a lot of people!

I’m not preaching to you about private health insurance, instead, I’m trying to pose a different perspective. We all have one life, a life that is extremely valuable and that I think is worth sacrificing some niceties to ensure we get to live it to the fullest.

Perhaps you’d really like to have private health cover but you’re concerned you simply cannot afford it? 

Check out my article 25 Ways You Can Afford Private Health Cover or visit Compare the Market by clicking HERE and see how they can tailor a private health insurance package to suit your budget and circumstances. You might be pleasantly surprised!


This post was a collaboration between Compare The Market and The Multitasking Woman as per my Disclosure Policy.

Eva Lewis (The Multitasking Woman)

Eva Lewis (The Multitasking Woman)

Eva is the Editor and Owner of The Multitasking Woman. She always has her fingers in many different pies but wouldn't have it any other way. Eva is a freelance writer, a social media manager, a Mum to her six-year-old son, one-year-old daughter, six chickens and Benny the dog and wife to Mr G. They all live happily in their little worker's cottage in Ipswich, Queensland, Australia.
Eva Lewis (The Multitasking Woman)

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  1. April 4, 2016 / 10:56 am

    Couldn’t agree more. I have had this discussion with quite a few people and sat down recently to go over all my medical expenses, how much I spent, how much my health insurance covered, various wait times etc.

    Without health insurance my life would have been on hold around 2 years AND my health fund has had to pay out more than I have paid them in premiums so far. This means self insuring would be crazy in my case.

    Great post!

  2. April 5, 2016 / 9:55 am

    Yep – nailed it. This is why we had to suck it up and get back in the private insurance game after going without for a few years. It’s one of those things that you will never regret if you ever need it. (and fingers crossed you don’t!)

  3. April 5, 2016 / 9:18 pm

    Yes, as expensive as it is I think it’s very important. I’d hate for any of my family to have to go on a wait list to have an operation they needed straight away.

  4. April 6, 2016 / 4:49 pm

    I completely agree. Australia while extremely fortunate to have a world class public health system it is not enough. I have never been without health insurance and I am fortunate enough to have parents who have been able to afford health cover for me since I was born (45yrs ago next mth!) I have so many friends who say that they can’t afford the health insurance but choose to spend their money elsewhere. I have had many different health issues including 3 different cancers, a knee op and two incredibly difficult pregnancies, and a myriad of other health complications (gall bladder being one and a liver resection). That is just my health list two of our kids have had tonsil/adenoid operations, two of the three wear glasses, our son plays footy so we get a moulded mouthguard dentist fitted every season. The allied health services are also invaluable!

    I am now in recovery from a major breakdown. We are in a situation where we can’t really afford to have private insurance and we absolutely can’t afford to not have it!

    I think that honestly people who choose to opt out are the ones who are blessed to not have been sick at all.

    My mum just had a bilateral knee replacement and is doing much better than many of those who only had one done but need the second done too. Apart from being able to schedule when she wanted at a time that suited her she was able to get the bilateral done something they won’t do in the public system.

    I honestly think that we are currently in front with what we have paid out and what we have used …

    • April 9, 2016 / 7:00 am

      Thanks for sharing, Kit. It’s just so hard, isn’t it. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. I hope your health improves. x

  5. April 8, 2016 / 10:45 pm

    We have been lucky that we haven’t had anything serious happen that required surgery or going on a waiting list. But we do have private health insurance just in case. Fingers crossed we never need it though.

    • April 9, 2016 / 6:51 am

      And that’s the thing. We all keep our fingers crossed hoping we never need to use our insurances, but it’s definitely peace of mind.