Skip to content

Why should I keep my private health insurance during the COVID-19 pandemic?

7 minute read

It's been months since Aussies first heard about the outbreak of COVID-19 (the novel coronavirus) and since then, all of us have changed the way we go about our everyday lives to help prevent the spread of the virus.

During these uncertain times, it’s even more important that we continue to focus on staying mentally and physically healthy.

With restrictions affecting the health industry during this time, you may be asking, ‘Why should I keep my private health insurance?’

That's why we’ve put together some of the benefits of keeping your nib health insurance throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

You’ll receive coverage for COVID-19

To help support our members during this tough time, we’ve temporarily expanded coverage for chest, lung, kidney or other treatment related to COVID-19 until the crisis passes. This is across Basic and Bronze level Hospital cover, where these treatments are currently excluded, at no extra cost. You'll just need to have served the standard two-month waiting period before requiring treatment1.

You’ll receive cover for psychology regardless of your Extras policy

Looking after your mental health and wellbeing is essential, especially when experiencing social isolation and restrictions on the activities that were once part of your everyday life. That’s why at nib, we’ve extended psychology benefits to all members with Extras cover. This means that if you hold any Extras cover with nib, you’ll automatically be eligible to claim a minimum of $300 of psychology benefits until 30 June, 2020. For more information, call 13 14 63 or visit our COVID-19 mental health support page.

You’ll still be eligible for elective surgery benefits

Although the government announced a temporary pause on non-urgent elective surgeries in March, these restrictions will be eased from Monday, 27th April.

This is good news for many Aussies who may be living in pain and discomfort while they wait for their surgery to take place, with the following procedures to be reintroduced:

  • IVF
  • Screening programs (cancer and other diseases)
  • Post cancer reconstruction procedures (such as breast reconstruction)
  • Procedures for children under 18 years of age
  • Joint replacements (hips, knees, shoulders)
  • Cataracts and eye procedures

nib will also continue to fund treatments and surgeries for things like pregnancy, cancer, cardiac and in-patient mental health and if you need to access these services, you can use your private health cover as normal2.

As an nib member, it’s comforting to know that you have the option to use your private health Hospital cover to avoid the likely longer public hospital waiting lists and have your own choice of doctor.

Please note: the reintroduction of elective surgeries will be staged and determined by clinicians. As such, members are encouraged to contact their surgeon and hospital to discuss any required treatment or surgery.

For more information on an upcoming procedure or elective surgery, head to the Department of Health’s dedicated page.

You’ll be able to claim on telehealth services

To ensure our members continue to stay as healthy as possible while social distancing, nib will cover appropriate treatment using telehealth for eligible members. This is a temporary measure that will be in place until 30 June 2020, however we’ll be reviewing the pandemic situation to determine if this date should be extended.

This means that you’ll still be able to use your cover to claim on telehealth appointments (like video calls or Skype appointments) for services including psychology, physiotherapy, dietetics, speech pathology, occupational therapy and rehabilitation care. A service will only be provided by telehealth where it is safe and clinically appropriate, so not all providers will be able to make it available. Please check with your provider if this is something they’re able to do.

For a full list of telehealth services, as well as claiming criteria, check out our telehealth FAQs.

You’ll have unlimited emergency ambulance cover

nib offers unlimited emergency ambulance cover regardless of your level of Hospital cover4. So by keeping your policy, you’ll get the emergency help you need, when and as often as you need it without having to worry about an expensive bill. The average ambulance claim for nib members in the 2018/19 financial year was $9745, so if you don’t have private health insurance, you might have to pay a hefty fee.

Related: How much does it cost to call an emergency ambulance in my state?

You’ll be covered if you have an accidental injury

Although public hospitals provide free health treatment in the emergency department, if you need further treatment after your initial admission, the costs (and the waiting times) can add up quickly. That’s why we offer nib’s Accidental Injury Benefit on the majority of nib Hospital covers. This benefit provides you with the peace of mind that you have extra protection if you do receive an injury as a result of an accident.

How does it work? If you’re an nib member and you seek treatment with a medical practitioner or attend a hospital emergency department within 72 hours of an accident, you’ll receive benefits in line with our top Hospital cover for the following 90 days if you are then admitted to hospital. So if you require further treatment as a result of your accident as an inpatient in hospital, you can rest assured you’ll be covered. This includes admission to a private hospital, or as a private patient in a public hospital.

You can access mental health services, regardless of cover level

Thanks to the mental health waiver, eligible nib members6 on a lower level of cover can upgrade their policy and immediately access the full benefits for psychiatric treatment without serving the usual two month waiting period. For more information, head to our Restrictions and Waivers page.

You won’t be charged the Medicare Levy Surcharge

If you’re single and earn more than $90,000 or you’re part of a family that earns more than $180,000, and you haven’t held private hospital cover for the full financial year, you may be charged the Medicare Levy Surcharge come tax time. This government-initiated payment is an extra 1% to 1.5% tax on top of the Medicare Levy we all have to pay.

Find out more with our article: Do I have to pay the Medicare Levy Surcharge at tax time?

You’ll have access to our range of Health Management Programs

At nib, we want you to be at your healthiest all the time, but with the current restrictions, we understand it can be tough. That’s why we encourage all our members to look into our range of Health Management Programs. Designed by qualified health professionals, offered free of charge to eligible members7 and tailored to your individual needs, the programs are designed to help get you in shape, keep you out of hospital and aid a quicker recovery post-hospitalisation.

For more information, or to register your interest, head to our Health Management Programs page.

You’ll avoid re-serving waiting periods

If you decide to cancel your private health insurance policy and then open a new one in six or 12 months’ time, you’ll be required to re-serve your waiting period. A waiting period is the time-frame you have to wait before you can start claiming benefits on your cover, and it applies to both Hospital and Extras cover.

The government is responsible for setting the maximum hospital wait periods that health funds can have, so that it’s as fair as possible for all Aussies. Also, if you qualify for nib’s financial hardship support, you may be able to suspend your policy and still be able to access cover for COVID-19 related treatment.

You won’t lose your financial incentives

If you cancel your private health insurance and you’ve been getting the benefit of government financial incentives, such as avoiding the Lifetime Health Cover loading and receiving the age-based discount, these will all be recalculated. This means, if you do decide to take out private health insurance in the future, you may not be eligible for the same discounts and loading exemptions you had initially.

We understand that many of our members are struggling financially throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and we’re here to support you through this difficult and uncertain time. Our priority is to help you stay safe and healthy, and offer support to maintain your cover in times of financial difficulty.

We’ve created a COVID-19 member support package, which includes postponing this year’s premium increase for at least six months. Find out more about how we’re helping you stay safe and healthy through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Still not sure whether keeping your private health insurance is the right decision for you and your family? If you're looking for ways to reduce the cost of your premium, check out our article, A guide to saving money on your health insurance cover. We also encourage you to do a cover review; head to our article, Everything you need to know about reviewing your cover for more information or call 13 16 42.

1Pre-Existing Conditions have a waiting period of 12 months.
2Subject to your chosen level of cover, policy exclusions, waiting periods and limits.
3Subject to your chosen level of cover, policy exclusions, waiting periods and limits.
4Not available to residents of QLD and TAS who have ambulance services provided by their State ambulance schemes, or pension and health care card holders who have ambulance services provided by State ambulance schemes (check entitlements with Centrelink if unsure).
5Average ambulance charge incurred by nib members between July 2018 and June 2019 (excluding TAS and QLD residents).
6This waiver is only available to members who have held Hospital cover for at least the previous two months, have not previously used their waiver with us or any other fund, have been admitted to a hospital and are under the care of an addiction medicine specialist or consultant psychiatrist.
7Available to eligible nib members who’ve held Hospital Cover for 12 months and served their relevant waiting periods. Additional criteria vary according to each program.

See all articles

Articles you might also like

What to expect from your first telehealth appointment

We asked a range of health professionals for the facts

How to increase immunity and avoid the flu this year

Dr Edward Cliff shares his tips for fighting the flu

6 flu myths debunked

As we approach winter, the flu myths return

What to expect from your first telehealth appointment

We asked a range of health professionals for the facts

How to increase immunity and avoid the flu this year

Dr Edward Cliff shares his tips for fighting the flu

6 flu myths debunked

As we approach winter, the flu myths return