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If you run your own business, you’ll know the importance of protecting it against risks such as liability, interruption, accidents/injuries and theft that could otherwise prove hazardous or force you to close down. It is wise to look beyond these scenarios and make sure that you are not neglecting another vital element for your business - your own health. This can be crucial for ensuring that you are able to keep running your business in the long term.
Here’s why you should be taking a close look at insuring your health and wellbeing:
Your health is key for your ongoing business success - even more so if you run a small business rather than a global concern. As the driving force behind the business, your absence could have a devastating impact if ill health forces you to scale back on work or stop working completely for a while.
If you’re out of action because you’re awaiting elective surgery in a public hospital, you could well be losing out on sales during that time. Emergency situations will be treated as a matter of priority but for non-emergency scenarios in which surgery is needed but the condition is not considered to be life-threatening, you could be waiting months to be admitted (or even longer). Depending on the problem, this could be a long period in which you’re physically not able to work or are severely compromised in doing so due to factors such as pain and state of mind.
For a sole trader or small team, this could be disastrous in terms of keeping things afloat. Sure, you might be able to hire people to cover gaps in the short term but this is more outlay, at a time in which income is likely to also be reduced.
This is where health insurance can come into its own. Hospital cover will significantly cut waiting times for elective surgery compared to staying in the public system, and also gives you much more freedom as to where you’re treated and by whom. From a business viewpoint, this means that you can expect to have elective surgery more quickly in the private system. In a lot of cases, you’ll be recovered and back to work some time before your elective surgery would be scheduled in the public system.
Health insurance can also be important for your wellbeing. Ancillary/Extras cover includes services such as chiro, osteopathy and complementary/natural/alternative therapies to deal with the physical and mental effects of stress, for example.
The Medicare Levy Surcharge is a mandatory levy on top of the Medicare Levy for higher earners. If you’re earning above $180 000 (for couples’ and families’ income), you’ll be obliged to pay this unless you have eligible hospital cover in place. From a tax point-of-view, it is therefore advisable to hold some degree of hospital cover and this will also have the health-related benefits that have been highlighted.
If you’ve not previously recognised the benefits of having health insurance, you may not be aware of how it works. Here’s a brief look at the health insurance system works in Australia.
Not all policies are the same. It pays to shop around for health insurance as there can be a lot of variation between health funds. This can be in terms of the services covered on policies and the annual limits attached to services, for example. Always read the small print to ensure that you’re aware of exactly what is or isn’t covered on any policies that interest you.
Health insurance is community rated. Health funds cannot charge more for a policy on health grounds, which means that your premiums won’t be adversely affected by pre-existing conditions. That’s not to say that your medical history doesn’t have any impact on your cover; claims for treatment for pre-existing conditions are subject to a 12-month waiting period.
Age also plays a part. Buying hospital cover earlier in life means that you’ll pay less in the long run. This is because the government’s Lifetime Health cover initiative adds a 2 per cent loading fee to premiums for every year that you were without hospital cover. Delay your purchase until you’re 40 and you can expect to pay 20 per cent loading, for example.
Premiums tend to go up every year. Every April, health insurance premiums are liable to rise in line with rising costs. Not all health funds will raise their premiums at the same rate; some rises will fall below the industry average, while others will exceed it. This can therefore be a very good time to review your policy and see if you can get a better deal elsewhere.
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