Patient undergoing surgery

Health insurance for cosmetic surgery

Looking for health insurance that will cover plastic surgery? Know your options first.

When you hear the words plastic surgery, most people start thinking about nose jobs, breast enhancements and tummy tucks. But plastic and reconstructive surgery can actually cover many essential medical procedures, from repairing cleft palates to reconstructive surgery following traumatic injuries and severe burns.

While many plastic and reconstructive surgery procedures are covered by Medicare and private health funds, some procedures are not.

How is plastic and reconstructive surgery defined?

Reconstructive plastic surgery is performed to correct abnormalities, whether they are congenital or acquired, and repair damage as a result of trauma. Reconstructive plastic surgery usually refers to essential medical procedures rather than elective ones, and many procedures are covered by Medicare and Australian health funds.

Reconstructive plastic surgery is different to cosmetic plastic surgery, which is typically carried out to improve appearance and refers to elective procedures.

Which health funds cover medically necessary plastic surgery?

Health fundWhich funds cover cosmetic and plastic surgery?Find out more
cuaBenefits for cosmetic surgery are only payable if it is for a medical purpose and if it's a treatment for which Medicare benefits are payable.More info
Health.com.auDepending on your level of hospital cover you may have exclusions or limited cover for cosmetic surgery when not deemed medically necessary.More info
GMHBA health fundDepending on your level of hospital cover you may have exclusions or limited cover for cosmetic surgery when not deemed medically necessary.More info
Transport Health LogoBenefits are only payable for cosmetic surgery or services when it is required for medical purposes and if the surgery or service has a Medicare benefit attached.More info
Health fundWhich funds cover cosmetic and plastic surgery?Find out more
BupaDepending on your level of hospital cover, you may be able to receive a benefit for this type of treatment if it's deemed medically necessary.More info
cdhlogoCDH Gold Hospital policy will cover cosmetic surgery only if it is a procedure for which Medicare pays a benefit.More info
FrankWhile elective cosmetic surgery is completely excluded, you may be able to receive a benefit if the treatment is medically required.More info
gmflogoIf the treatment is medically required and has a Medicare Benefit Schedule number, GMF will pay a benefit towards cosmetic surgery such as rhinoplasty.More info
medibankMedibank Top Hospital and Overseas Student Health Cover policies include a benefit for medically required plastic surgery.More info
peoplecare provider page linkPeoplecare Mid and Premium Hospital policies cover plastic surgery providing the treatment or service has an attached Medicare Benefits Schedule number.More info
phoenix health fund provider linkCosmetic surgery and related services that Medicare pays a benefit towards may be covered.More info
queensland country health fund provider linkMedically required plastic surgery is covered by Queensland Country Health Fund hospital policies. Please note that if you are covered by its public hospital policy and are an inpatient in a private hospital or day surgery you will only be eligible for a minimum benefit for accommodation costs.More info
acahealthlogo
Restricted fund*
Although not included in any of ACA's covers, under exceptional circumstances you may be able to receive a benefit for cosmetic surgery. This requires the procedure to have prior approval from the fund committee and be recommended by a Registered Medical Practitioner.More info
doctorshealthfundlogoRestricted fund*Benefits for plastic surgery and related services will only be paid if they are also eligible for Medicare benefits. If chosen for cosmetic reasons only a minimum benefit to cover accommodation will be paid.More info
policehealthlogoRestricted fund*Some benefits may be paid for hospital treatments required following cosmetic surgery. Police Health Fund requires you to contact them directly to see if you will be covered.More info
rthealthlogoRestricted fund*Some plastic surgery procedures will be covered providing they are deemed medically necessary and have a Medicare Benefits Schedule number.More info
tuhRestricted fund*Provides restricted cover for plastic surgery. The procedure must be medically required and have an attached Medicare Benefit Schedule number.More info

*Restricted funds only provide cover to members of specific industries, groups and organisations. In some cases family members may also be eligible to join.

What is generally covered by private health insurance?

If you need to undergo reconstructive plastic surgery, you may be able to receive cover for the following types of procedures from Medicare and your health fund:

  • Surgeries on congenital abnormalities. A congenital abnormality is a condition that exists at or before birth, such as a cleft palate or a nasal deformity that results in breathing difficulties.
  • Surgeries following burns. Skin grafts, reduction of skin tightening and treatment of scarring are all covered.
  • Surgeries following traumatic injuries. For example, facial bone fractures that need to be repaired or reset.
  • Surgeries following the removal of cancers or tumours. Some common examples of covered procedures include breast reconstruction following a mastectomy, and skin grafts following the removal of a tumour.
  • Surgeries to repair scars. This refers to procedures to repair skin injured by lacerations or scarring.

Compare policies from 30+ Australian health funds

How can restrictions and exclusions affect you?

Some health funds will provide full cover for all costs associated with your hospital admission for reconstructive plastic surgery, although you may have to pay an excess or co-payment as part of your policy arrangement. However, other policies will restrict or exclude certain services in return for offering lower premiums, so this may affect the level of cover available to you.

Exclusions refer to services that are not covered at all by your health insurance, while restricted services are those for which you will receive only a limited benefit. If restrictions or exclusions apply to the reconstructive plastic surgery cover offered by your private health insurance policy, there are more than 1,600 procedures listed on the Medicare schedule for which you will not be able to receive full coverage.

Don’t be so quick to exclude plastic surgery cover from your policy

While you may wish to exclude or restrict your plastic surgery coverage in order to save on premiums, remember that it’s impossible to predict what the future holds and what sort of medical treatment you may require. If reconstructive plastic surgery is excluded from your cover, you may have to pay significant out-of-pocket costs if you require an excluded service. And even if you have restricted cover in place, this may only cover the treatment itself and no other expenses, so you may be left with sizeable bills to cover the cost of your hospital accommodation.

What are your options?

Your options when it comes to private health insurance for plastic and reconstructive surgery are simple. You can:

  • Choose a comprehensive policy that covers reconstructive plastic surgery
  • Choose a policy that offers restricted cover for reconstructive plastic surgery and pay lower premiums
  • Choose a policy that excludes reconstructive plastic surgery altogether

The option you choose is entirely up to you, but be aware that not having any cover in place could lead to significant out-of-pocket expenses if you require plastic reconstructive surgery. Consult your health fund for further details about the type and level of cover it offers.

It’s vital that you fully understand your options when it comes to private health insurance and plastic surgery. Consider your cover needs and discuss the policies available with your health fund before deciding on the right policy for you.

Picture: Shutterstock

William Eve

Will is a personal finance writer for finder.com.au specialising in content on insurance. While he cannot give personal advice to clients, Will enjoys explaining the intricacies of different types of protective cover to help individuals and businesses find affordable cover that won't leave them underinsured.

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