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.
Is palliative care covered by Medicare?
Palliative care is usually free with Medicare in the public system. MBS-subsidised palliative medicine specialist services cost 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:
- 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?
Medicare pays for all MBS palliative care services which can include care in a public hospital. You'll have to pay for services that aren't fully covered by Medicare yourself, such as psychology and 24-hour assistance at home.
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, many will fully cover you for the MBS fee — we've put together a list of providers 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. All prices are based on a single individual with less than $90,000 income and living in Sydney.
Why compare health insurance with Finder?
We don't ask for your phone or email to see prices.
With 1 click, you can open your results to nearly every fund in Australia.
You pay the same price as going direct – we charge no fees.
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.
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.
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.
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 cover can.
Why you can trust Finder's health insurance experts
Our health insurance engine is completely free to use. You pay the same as buying directly from the health insurer. Better still, we regularly run exclusive deals that you won't find on any other site.
Unlike other comparison sites, we're not owned by an insurer. That means our opinions are our own and you can compare nearly every health fund in Australia on the site (and find a better deal).
Since 2014, we've helped 350,000+ people find health insurance by explaining your options simply. We'll never ask for your number or email to see prices. We're here to help you make a decision.
We're here to help
Palliative care: Frequently asked questions
More guides on Finder
Health insurance for sterilisation
Find out how to claim vasectomies and tubal ligation with Medicare or private health funds, and the things you should know before going in.
Medical costs comparison
Doing a medical costs comparison could save you a lot of money. Here's how to reduce your out-of-pocket medical expenses.
How does health insurance cover brain surgery?
Compare public and private health insurance for brain treatment.
Health insurance for cataract surgery
Find out the pros and cons of cataract surgery with both public and private healthcare.
Health insurance for grommets
Want to get health cover for grommets? Find out how private health insurance and Medicare costs compare and what you'll be covered for. Choose the option that suits you best.
Gold health insurance
Gold hospital insurance is the most comprehensive hospital cover that money can buy – starting from around $53 per week.
Health insurance for appendicitis
Wondering whether appendicitis will be covered by your health insurer? Your guide to private health insurance and appendicitis here.
Health insurance for cosmetic surgery
While private health insurance does not cover plastic surgery that is elective and performed for cosmetic purposes, it does provide cover for a wide range of reconstructive plastic surgeries.
Health insurance for insulin pumps
If your doctor has recommended that you receive an insulin pump, check with your private health fund to find out whether the cost will be covered under your policy.