How much does palliative care cost?

Palliative care in the public system is covered by Medicare, or you can get health insurance for care in the private system from around $90 a month.

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What you need to know:

  • Palliative care helps you live comfortably with a terminal illness.
  • Palliative care in the public system is generally covered by Medicare.
  • Insurance coverage for private palliative care is available from around $90 a month.

Is palliative care covered by Medicare?

Palliative care is usually free with Medicare in the public system. MBS-subsidised palliative medicine specialist services costs an average of $417 per patient through Medicare, according to 2019-20 Medicare Benefits Schedule data.

However, not all palliative care is covered by Medicare. In fact, from 2018-19 to 2019-20, the total number of MBS-subsidised palliative care services decreased by 0.9%, so you might have some out of pocket expenses. For example, you might have to pay for:

  • Medicines
  • Equipment for use at home
  • Nursing staff if you choose to stay at home
  • Private allied health professionals, such as psychologists and physiotherapists
  • Therapies such as acupuncture and chiro

Who pays for palliative care?

Public system icon

Medicare

Medicare pays for all MBS palliative care services which can include care in a public hospital. Services that aren't fully covered by Medicare, such as psychology and 24 hour assistance at home, you'll have to pay for yourself.

Private contract icon

Private health

All basic private health insurance policies are required to provide restricted cover for palliative care. This means you'll still have some out of pocket expenses. However, lots will fully cover you for the MBS fee — we've put together a list of them for you below.

Compare health insurance coverage for palliative care

Here are some policies from Finder partners that cover palliative care. All have a 2 month wait period and a $500 excess.

Name Product Palliative Care Tier Price Per Month Hide CompareBox Apply
Frank Basic Hospital 500 (Basic+)
Basic
$71.55
Qantas Basic Hospital
Basic
$83.14
HBF Bronze Hospital Plus
Bronze
$88.74
HCF Hospital Bronze Plus
Bronze
$93.45
Peoplecare Bronze Hospital
Bronze
$107
ahm classic silver plus
Silver
$117.30
Medibank Silver Plus Assured
Silver
$124.95
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*Quotes are based on a single individual with less than $90,000 income, $500 excess and living in Sydney.

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What is palliative care?

Palliative care is a type of personalised care that helps you live as comfortably as possible when you have a life-threatening or terminal illness. Treatment can include a broad range of services that provide physical, emotional and mental health support for you. Some examples of palliative care include:

  • Radiation therapy to reduce pain (for example, if you have cancer)
  • Medicines to control symptoms and relieve discomfort
  • Psychology, physiotherapy and other alternative therapies
  • Care and treatment in a hospice
  • Hospital care at home

Where can I receive palliative care?

Depending on your insurance and your condition, you can receive palliative care in different locations.

Hospital

In a hospital

Generally, palliative care you receive in a public hospital will be covered by Medicare, although complementary therapies, additional medications and extra equipment costs may have to come out of your pocket or a private health fund.

Home

At home

If medically recommended, you may also claim some Medicare benefits for palliative care received at home. However, you may still need to contribute to costs such as specialised equipment, medications and at-home nursing or care staff.

Nurse

In a residential facility

This includes aged-care facilities and hospices. The cost of palliative care at certain approved private residential facilities may be covered by private health insurance, as well as Medicare, but only to a limited extent. There will be costs for accommodation and other related services when receiving palliative care in such a facility, which may be covered by different parts of your private health insurance policy.

Palliative care in the private system

If you receive palliative care as a private health patient, 75% of the MBS fee is covered by Medicare and your insurance covers the remaining 25%. Here's what else you need to know about palliative care and private health insurance.

  • You get restricted cover. All health insurers are required to provide restricted cover for palliative care. This means that even if you get a basic policy, your insurer will cover at least some of the costs.
  • It can cover the gap. Doctors and health professionals don't need to adhere to the MBS fee, so they may charge more. The gap refers to the price difference between the MBS and what is actually charged by the doctor or the hospital. Many private health insurance providers can cover the gap.
  • You can receive care at home. Some private health insurers can cover you to receive care and treatment at home.
  • It's often more extensive than Medicare. In many cases, Medicare won't cover alternative therapies like physiotherapy and certain medications but private health can.

Palliative care: Frequently asked questions

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