What are health and wellbeing programs?
As part of their commitment to providing broader health cover, many Australian private health funds can help cover costs for members who participate in a wide range of health and wellbeing programs. From gym memberships and personal training sessions to swimming lessons for kids, these programs are designed to help health fund members achieve improved overall health and wellbeing.
What costs will your health fund cover?
If you take out extras cover with many Australian private health funds, you’ll be able to access benefits for a large selection of health, wellbeing, diet and lifestyle programs. These programs are designed to help fund members manage their weight, control chronic diseases and generally live healthier lifestyles.
Some of the programs and services typically covered as part of an extras policy include:
- Gym memberships
- Personal training and group exercise sessions
- Quit smoking courses
- Diabetes management programs and classes
- Asthma management programs and classes
- Weight management and weight loss programs
- Depression and anxiety management programs
- Osteoarthritis management programs
- Pregnancy and newborn care advice programs
- Heart health programs
- Health screenings and diagnostic testing, for example skin cancer screenings
- Nutritionist and exercise physiology consultations
- Online health assessments
- Pilates and yoga classes
- Children’s swimming classes
- Cancer Council UV products
- 24/7 health advice hotlines
In order to receive a benefit, the class, service or program will need to be offered by a registered provider and approved by your health fund. The level of benefits you are eligible to receive will depend on the policy you choose, so read the fine print closely and contact individual funds for more details.
How are diet and lifestyle products covered?
Diet and lifestyle programs and products are typically covered under high-level extras policies. Some basic policies won’t include benefits for these types of services, so keep this in mind when choosing cover.
In order to receive a benefit for a health or lifestyle program, the program will need to be recommended by your referring health care professional as part of a health management program to control a specific condition. This means you will typically need your referring GP or other medical specialist to fill out a special form available from your health fund.
Check out the product brochure or contact your health fund directly to find out exactly what health and lifestyle programs are covered as part of your policy. It’s also important to check any limits that apply to cover. As well as an annual limit on the amount you can claim back for diet and lifestyle programs, for example $250, your fund may also impose smaller limits on the maximum you can claim for individual programs or services.
|Fund||What’s covered?||More info|
|AHM Super Extras provides cover for dietitian and nutritionist consultations, weight loss programs, prenatal and postnatal consultations and classes and birthing courses. An annual cover limit of $250 applies to:||More info|
|Australian Unity||An Australian Unity extras cover policy includes access to a wide range of health management programs, including:||More info|
|GMHBA Gold Extras Cover includes benefits for:||More info|
|HCF extras cover members can access a free online health and wellbeing program and also access benefits for:|
Group physiotherapy classes, group exercise physiology and swimming lessons are also covered.
|When you take out High Extras Cover from health.com.au you can take advantage of benefits for:||More info|
|HIF members can access benefits for:||More info|
|nib offers a range of Healthier Lifestyle benefits to members, including:||More info|
|Transport Health offers a wide range of broader health cover options to its members, including:||More info|
Are diet and lifestyle products covered by Medicare, private health insurance or both?
If you suffer from a chronic medical condition, for example stroke, asthma, cancer, diabetes or a musculoskeletal condition, you may be able to access some benefits from Medicare under a Chronic Disease Management Plan. This plan must be agreed on between you and your GP and may allow you to access Medicare benefits for specific allied health services.
However, most people will need to rely on their private extras cover to help cover the cost of diet and lifestyle products. From gym memberships to quit smoking courses, the range of programs and services covered by health funds is quite diverse, so check the details of your policy for more information on what is and isn’t covered.
Activities to improve your health
There are plenty of things all Australians can do to improve their overall health and reduce the risk of disease, including:
- Exercising more. The Australian Government recommends that Australians get at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise every day. So go for a walk, jog, swim or bike ride, or join a sports team.
- Finding other ways to stay active. There are plenty of other ways you can increase your activity levels without actually working out. Walk to work, take the stairs instead of the lift and find hobbies that encourage you to get out and about.
- Eating better. Diet is a crucial component of overall health and wellbeing, so eat a balanced diet with all the nutrients you need to stay in tip-top shape. Don’t eat too much fat or salt and limit your alcohol intake.
- Losing weight. With the right diet and regular exercise, you should be able to lose those excess kilos and maintain a healthy weight. This will in turn reduce your risk of suffering from a wide range of health problems, with heart disease at the top of the list.
- Quitting smoking. Smoking increases your chances of suffering a wide range of health conditions, so start taking steps to lose this nasty habit.
How do I claim diet and lifestyle products on my health insurance?
In order to receive benefits for many diet and lifestyle products, you’ll need your referring GP or medical practitioner to sign a health management form, which is available from your health fund. This form will need to be provided to your health fund along with any receipts when you submit your claim.
There are several ways that health funds allow you to submit claims, including:
- On the spot. You may be able to swipe your membership card at the health care provider to claim electronically.
- Online. Most health funds offer an online claims service where you can upload your receipt and referral form.
- Via an app. You may also be able to lodge your claim via your fund’s dedicated claims app.
- Via post, email or fax. You can submit your receipt and the full details of your claim by posting, emailing or faxing it to your insurer.
- In person. You may also have the option of visiting a health fund retail location to lodge your claim.
Lifestyle-related health problems
The way you choose to live today can have huge repercussions for your health in the future. What you eat, how much you drink, whether or not you smoke and how much exercise you get can all have a big impact on your risk of suffering from lifestyle-related health problems later in life.
According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, coronary heart disease was the leading cause of death in Australia in 2013. With poor diet and lack of exercise being the major contributing factors in the development of heart disease, it’s easy to see just how big of an impact your lifestyle choices can have on your health.
But heart disease is far from the only lifestyle-related health problem affecting Australians. Lung cancer was the fourth leading cause of death and cigarette smoke is easily the most common cause of cancer. In fact, in 2009, almost 30% of deaths in Australia were caused by cancers but the Cancer Council claims that the 13,000 lifestyle-related cancer deaths that occur every year can be prevented.
Finally, almost one million Australians have diabetes, a condition that produces a wide range of health complications. This lifestyle-related disease is also one of the top 10 leading causes of death in Australia, reinforcing the importance of looking after yourself and your body.
What is the difference between a dietitian and a nutritionist?
Dietitians complete tertiary study in food, nutrition and dietetics. They can work in private practices and in hospitals to provide nutritional advice and dietary treatment plans for people of all ages who suffer from conditions such as diabetes and gastrointestinal problems.
Meanwhile, nutritionists will also have completed a tertiary qualification but in different fields, for example nutrition and public health. Nutritionists provide advice about diet and food choices to people of all ages, but they work in public and community health settings.
In short, dietitians are more highly qualified than nutritionists. Australian dietitians are also considered to be nutritionists, but nutritionists who have not earned a dietetics qualification cannot be classified as dietitians.
Do health funds cover dieticians or nutritionists?
If your doctor refers you to a dietitian, Medicare will cover some of the cost. Some high-level extras policies will also include cover for seeing a dietitian, so check with your fund for details of cover.
As for nutritionists, Medicare will not cover any of the costs you incur. Only a small portion of health funds offer rebates for nutritionist services, so check with your health fund to find out whether any cover is available.
Compare your options online and apply for cover