Are you over 70? Find out how health insurance can benefit you.
As you get older it becomes ever more important to look after your health. Unfortunately, it also gets harder.
Having health insurance can help by providing you cover for treatments such as in-home, convalescence or respite care and extras cover for benefits such as dentures and hearing aids.
Compare your health insurance options from Australian funds
Why get health insurance for people over 70?
When you’re retired, how you manage your money is more important than ever before – so why should you pay for private health insurance? Private health insurance for over 70s offers a long list of important benefits, and here are just some of the reasons why you should take out cover:
- You’re not getting any younger. One of the downsides of being over 70 is that you’re susceptible to an increased range of health risks. As a general rule, the older you are, the more likely you are to suffer from an injury, illness or other health complaint that could require expensive medical treatment.
- Medicare doesn’t provide comprehensive cover. Australia’s Medicare system is very useful to help cover medical costs, but there are plenty of medical, hospital and general treatment expenses that Medicare doesn’t cover. Private health insurance is designed to cover the costs that Medicare doesn’t, allowing you to keep your out-of-pocket expenses to a minimum.
- Cover designed to suit you. Many private health funds offer hospital and extras covers that are specially designed to meet the needs of older Australians. If you’re over 70, you probably don’t want cover for pregnancy services, but cover for cardiac-related procedures might be a necessity. By choosing health insurance for seniors over 70, you can get cover for a range of essential health risks at an affordable price.
- Government support. Australians aged over 70 years receive a higher level of government rebates than the average Australian for taking out private health insurance. This makes it even more affordable to take out cover.
- Plenty of choice. Australia’s private health insurance industry is very competitive, which is great news for consumers. If you’re looking for over 70s health insurance there are plenty of options to choose from.
- It’s easy to compare and choose. Don’t put taking out health insurance for over 70s in the “too hard” basket – it’s simple to compare a range of policies online and choose the one that matches your needs.
What does health insurance for senior citizens cover?
Health insurance for seniors over 70 is an essential consideration for all older Australians. As the potential health risks you face increase with every passing year, it makes sense to have cover in place to help you get the medical treatment you need at an affordable price.
While the cover available varies depending on the health fund and policy you choose, health insurance for seniors over 70s can cover:
- Ambulance transportation
- Hospital accommodation in a private or shared room of a private or public hospital
- Theatre fees
- Intensive care
- X-rays and pathology
- Visits to the emergency department
- Home nursing
- Palliative care
- Joint reconstructions and replacements
- Cardiac surgery
- Eye surgery
- Organ transplant
- Inpatient pharmaceutical drugs
- A wide range of general treatments, including optical, dental, physio, podiatry, hearing aids, weight management programs and much more
Commonwealth Seniors Health Care Card income test
The Commonwealth Seniors Health Care Card is offered through the Australian Government’s Department of Human Services. The card allows eligible older Australians to access a wide range of savings and benefits, including:
- Access to cheaper prescriptions through the government’s Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS)
- Access to bulk-billed doctors’ appointments (the government offers incentives to doctors to encourage them to bulk bill cardholders)
- Reduced out-of-hospital medical expenses via the Medicare Safety Net
- A quarterly Energy Supplement to help you pay your power and phone bills
- Discounted travel on Great Southern Rail services, including the Indian Pacific, the Ghan and the Overland
- Access to additional health, household, transport, education and recreation concessions that may be offered by your state, territory or local government
In order to qualify for the Commonwealth Seniors Health Care Card you will need to be at least 65 years of age and living in Australia as either an Australian resident or the holder of a Special Category visa. You must also provide your own and your partner’s tax file numbers, and you must not be eligible to receive a payment from the Department of Human Services or the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.
Eligibility for the card is also subject to an income test, so in order to qualify you will need to have an annual income of less than:
- $52,273 for singles
- $83,636 combined income for couples
- $104,546 combined income for couples who are separated by illness or respite care, or where one partner is in prison
This income limit increases by $639.60 for each dependent child you care for.
Healthy eating for over 70s
The right diet is essential no matter how old you are, but especially so if you’re over 70 years of age. The tips below will help you get all the nutrients you need to stay happy and healthy and protect yourself against expensive medical bills:
- Eat a balanced diet. Fruit and vegetables are rich in antioxidants (great for staving off Alzheimer’s) and you should aim to eat at least five portions of these every single day. Combined with grain foods, lean red meat and poultry, fish and dairy, this will create a balanced diet that satisfies all your nutritional needs.
- Fabulous fibre. Fibre helps with digestion and can prevent constipation, so make sure to include plenty of fibre in your diet.
- Consume calcium. Calcium is great for strong bones and preventing osteoporosis, so low-fat dairy products such as milk, yoghurt and cheese are all essential inclusions. Leafy greens, sardines and even tofu can all also provide plenty of calcium.
- Include iron. Iron is essential for your overall health, wellbeing and energy levels. Lean red meat is the best source of iron, and the Department of Health recommends one serving of lean meat per day.
- Cut out salt. Excess salt consumption can increase your blood pressure, which can in turn increase your risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke. Try to never have more than 6g of salt a day, which is equivalent to 2,300mg of sodium.
Lowering your blood pressure over 70
If you suffer from high blood pressure, your chances of suffering a wide range of health complications are increased. High blood pressure can cause heart attack, stroke and even kidney failure, so keep these tips in mind to ensure that your blood pressure remains at a healthy level:
- Maintain a healthy weight. Obesity is a big contributor to high blood pressure, so getting to a healthy weight (and staying there) is a crucial part of preventing health problems. The two keys to weight loss and maintenance are a balanced diet and regular exercise.
- Eat a balanced diet. A balanced diet includes a combination of fresh fruit and veg, lean meat and poultry, grain foods and dairy. Drinking plenty of water and keeping alcohol consumption to a minimum is also recommended.
- Exercise regularly. At least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise five days a week is the recommended Australian minimum, so try going for a walk, riding a bike or going swimming. It’s also a good idea to obtain advice from your doctor before starting a new exercise regime.
- Quit smoking. While smoking doesn’t increase your blood pressure, it raises the risk of heart disease (of which high blood pressure is a contributing factor). So by cutting out cigarettes you can reduce the risk of heart attack.
- Consider alternatives. Meditation, yoga and tai chi all promote slow breathing which can help lower blood pressure.
Eye health tips for over 70s
Want to do everything you can to maintain your eyesight as you get older? The handy tips below should help:
- Get tested regularly. The best way to check whether your eyes are in tip-top condition is to have a regular eye test. This will help detect any problems as they develop and also ensure that you are wearing the right prescription lenses for your changing eyesight.
- Wear sunglasses. Exposing your eyes to harsh sunlight can cause damage, so wear sunglasses to protect against harmful UV rays.
- Eat a balanced diet. Not only does eating plenty of fruit and vegetables contribute to your overall wellbeing, but it also helps protect against eye problems such as cataracts and macular degeneration.
- Exercise regularly. Regular exercise increases the flow of oxygen and blood throughout your body, both of which are important for good eye health.
- Stay healthy. Being overweight increases the risk of diabetes, which can cause damage to your eyesight.
- Get plenty of sleep. Your eyes are lubricated while you sleep, which cleans out any irritants that may have accumulated throughout the day.