6 ways to make your healthcare more affordable

Posted: 28 January 2022 9:38 am
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Looking after yourself is important, but it doesn't always come cheap. Check out our tips for managing healthcare costs.

Sponsored by humm. Buy now pay later at over 20,000 stores to make ongoing or unexpected healthcare costs more manageable. Shop online or in-store with monthly fees of just $8 and no interest, ever. Learn more.

Look after yourself, we're told. Stay healthy, go to the gym, get regular check-ups. Okay, but who's paying for all of this?

From general health and wellbeing through to preventative treatments and medical procedures, healthcare can be expensive. So much so that it's actually putting people off.

In 2018, a Finder survey of over 2,000 Australians found that 36% had skipped a specialist medical appointment due to the cost.

A year later, a report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) returned similar results when 39% of Australians said they had avoided or delayed a dentist visit due to cost.

Australians are quite literally sacrificing their health because costs are too high. But, before you put your wellbeing on the line, take the time to consider some alternatives.

Extras health insurance

Yes, health insurance comes with an upfront cost. But if you like staying on top of your health with regular trips to the optician, dentist or other general health practitioners, an extras policy could end up saving you some serious money.

In fact, one of our very own writers managed to claim $600 worth of health benefits in just 5 days – and the policy only cost him around $13 for the week.

Extras policies cover a range of non-hospital healthcare services, but they do come with limits. For example, almost all health funds place a lifetime limit on orthodontic benefits. So you might only be able to claim a maximum of $2,000 for braces, no matter how long you have a policy.

Depending on your policy, you might even be able to claim for sunscreen, exercise classes and weight-loss courses which can in turn lower your risk of further pricey health problems.

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Buy now pay later

While extras health insurance can help manage ongoing healthcare costs, it inevitably falls short when it comes to larger costs such as braces, laser eye surgery or hearing aids.

However, if you do have a larger healthcare cost on the horizon, buy now pay later providers are a feasible option which can break the big expense into more manageable chunks.

For example, buy now pay later provider humm is accepted by over 1,000 healthcare providers, including dentists and orthodontists; opticians and laser eye clinics; psychologists and therapists; IVF and egg-freezing clinics; and hearing aid and mobility aid retailers.

Through humm, customers can spend up to $30,000 (depending on what you buy and where from) and then spread that cost over as many as 60 months.

So, if you spent $10,000 on IVF treatments, you could spread that out over 3 years to have more-manageable fortnightly repayments of just $128.

There's never any interest charged and you won't be hit with any early repayment fees if you manage to pay the debt off sooner. However, there are monthly account-keeping fees of $8 and establishment fees of up to $90 on more expensive items.

Bulk billing

Always check to see if the service you're seeking can be bulk billed. This means the doctor will accept the amount covered by Medicare for your treatment and you won't have any out-of-pocket expenses to worry about.

If the doctor won't bulk bill, this could be because they are charging a higher amount than is covered by Medicare for your treatment. In this case, ask them what they expect the gap payment to be so you can be prepared. Or, you can look for a different doctor who does offer bulk billing.

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Generic medicine

This is a smaller tip compared to some of our others but it can add up over time. Whenever you collect prescription medicine from the pharmacy, ask for the generic version.

In Australia, generic brands must meet the same strict standards of quality, safety and effectiveness. They have the same active ingredient and dose, but with none of the marketing.

Of course, you should still check with your pharmacist and be extra cautious if you have any allergies, but switching to generic over brand names could be a quick money-saver.

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Medical loans

Medical loans are also a possibility for those high-value healthcare costs. However, be sure to pay close attention to fees, interest rates and comparison rates.

The comparison rate is a good indicator of how much the loan will cost you. So if you take out a $10,000 personal loan with a 6% comparison rate, you'll end up paying $600 extra over the life of your loan.

However, if you don't have a good credit score or a secure income, you might find lenders only offer you a loan with a higher interest rate. In that case, you'd end up paying more for the loan.

You should also check to see if there are any fees for early repayment of your loan, as you may find yourself in a position to settle sooner and wouldn't want to be penalised for that.

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Compare

No matter what kind of healthcare you're paying for, always compare everything. Doctor's fees, pharmacy costs, finance rates – everything.

Build the habit of comparison into your daily life – from comparing car insurance policies to comparing how much your dermatologist is going to charge – and you'll soon notice you're stacking up savings.

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Name Product Interest rate (p.a.) Min. loan amount Max. loan amount Establishment Fee Credit Check Required?
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0%
$1
$1,999
$0 (Up to $90 on bigger purchases)
No
humm ($2,000 - $30,000)
0%
$2,000
$30,000
$90 ($35 to $90 only applicable when applying for over $2,000.)
Yes
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Disclaimer: This is general advice only. Consider the product information (including its terms and conditions) and your own circumstances before you make any decision about the topics or products discussed. Compare your options and get advice if you are uncertain. Hive Empire Pty Ltd ACL 385509; CAR 432664.

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