A pre-existing condition (PEC) is an ailment, illness or condition where, in the opinion of a medical practitioner appointed by nib (not your own doctor), the signs or symptoms of a condition existed during the six months prior to you first joining hospital cover or upgrading to a higher level of hospital cover.
A health condition can still be considered pre-existing even though the illness had not been formally diagnosed prior to you purchasing or upgrading your level of hospital cover.
If you have a pre-existing condition you can still be covered, providing the procedure is included in your health cover – however, you will need to finish serving a longer waiting period before you can claim on treatment.
If your condition or illness meets the pre-existing condition definition, in most instances a 12 month waiting period applies from the date of joining or upgrading your level of hospital cover. nib will not pay hospital benefits for treatment for the condition during this waiting period.
If nib is unable to pay for your treatment due to a pre-existing condition, it may be an option to postpone your treatment until your waiting period is served, providing your specialist agrees. You may also elect to be treated as a public patient in a public hospital, however you may have to go on to the public hospital waiting list for your procedure.
The pre-existing condition rule applies the same way across all health funds. Similar to waiting periods, the pre-existing condition rule exists to keep health cover fair for all customers. Otherwise it could be possible for people who are knowingly unwell to join a health fund and claim for a planned procedure and leave.
With your doctor’s help, we’ll need to find out if your condition is pre-existing. Your doctor will have to complete some paperwork to identify if in the six months prior to joining or upgrading your hospital cover there were any signs or symptoms of the condition, or if signs would have been evident to a GP (had a GP been consulted).
We make every effort to make the process as quick as possible. nib will normally require up to 5 working days from the date we receive the completed forms from your GP and specialist to finalise the pre-existing condition assessment, if no further information is required.
If you think you have a pre-existing condition or you know you do, call us to discuss your options. If you don’t your treatment could cost you thousands of dollars or result in a long wait to be seen in the public system.