For people who are based in rural and regional areas, it can be difficult to obtain quality healthcare. The Queensland Country Health Fund offers two types of hospital cover and four flavours of extras cover focused around providing affordable care to people who might not live in major metropolitan areas.
Top 3 features
- Good for regional-based people who may have to travel long distances for healthcare - $50/night accommodation allowance on hospital covers and concessional rates on furnished apartments near hospitals in Townsville and Brisbane.
- Good for families with children - children are automatically included on their parent's policy until the age of 21 at no extra cost, and in some situations can be covered until 25.
- Beware if you're looking for the highest-tier health-care. Queensland Country Health Fund does not offer a Gold-level or equivalent hospital policy.
The Queensland Country Health Fund has operated since 1977, beginning operation as an open health fund under a management contract after a merger in 1999. It serves almost 60,000 members, primarily located in rural and regional Queensland, but offering healthcare nationwide at recognised hospitals.
- Vital Hospital (Bronze+). Designed for people who are young and healthy, this covers many more common standard hospital procedures. Has a flexible excess between $250 - $750 and allows you to choose your own doctor and hospital. Includes one emergency ambulance ride per year and a $50/night accommodation benefit if you have to travel more than 300 kilometres round-trip for treatment.
- Better Hospital (Silver+). Provides everything that Vital Hospital does as well as other treatments like insulin pumps, hearing aids, and more. Also offers a $1,000 a year nursing service benefit and a hospital boarder cover for people who may have to stay at the hospital for the wellbeing of the patient. High benefits for mechanical aids and appliances, plus a flexible excess of $250 or $500.
Young and Select extras can be purchased separately or combined with Hospital cover, but Essential and Premium extras must be combined with one of the two Hospital plans above.
- Young extras. Suitable for young, healthy individuals. Offers basic dental cover, as well as optical, chiropractic, some natural therapies, osteopathy, physiotherapy, podiatry, healthy living benefits and pharmaceuticals.
- Select extras. This plan has higher yearly limits on the services included in Young extras, but excludes osteopathy, dietitian, acupuncture and Chinese medicine.
- Essential extras. Covers a wider range of dental services compared to Young extras, but includes cover for audiology, orthoptic and occupational therapy, foot orthoses, exercise physiology, psychology and speech therapy. Also provides benefits for childbirth education and school accidents.
- Premium extras. Queensland Country's most extensive extras policy. Identical to Essential extras, but with higher yearly limits on what you can claim for each service.
In 2019 the Australian government has introduced a new system of tiers designed to make health insurance easier to navigate and offer more flexibility. Health insurance plans have been split up into four tiers - Basic, Bronze, Silver and Gold - with each one having essential requirements for a plan to qualify for that tier.
Queensland Country Health Fund offers plus plans at the Bronze and Silver level, meaning they've added a little extra on top of the basic requirements for those tiers. This is intended to increase choice for consumers.
In accordance with the changes to private health care instituted by the government, young people are eligible for a discount based on their age when taking out a hospital or combined hospital and extras policy with Queensland Country Health Fund.
This discount is 2% off of your premiums for each year you are under 30 when purchasing health insurance. If you're aged 18-25, you'll receive the full 10% discount. This discount will remain in place until you hit the age of 41, at which point it will decrease by 2% per year until it hits zero.
In addition to the benefits you receive for taking out a hospital and/or extras plan, Queensland Country Health Fund provides the following to members:
- Living Healthy magazine. Members get automatic access to the Living Healthy magazine, which useful details about their cover, health tips, events and offers.
- Home away from home. Since it's often necessary for those in regional Queensland to travel to towns like Townsville and Brisbane for treatment, Queensland Country Health Fund offers concessional rates on two-bedroom apartments near hospitals in those towns after two months as a member.
- Care navigation. If you have Better Hospital (Silver+) cover, you may, based on an interview with Queensland Country Health Fund's Care Navigation team, be offered short-term program or ongoing support and education over the phone.
- Loyalty rewards. If you hold either Essential or Premium extras plans for a year, you get increased claim limits for dental services (not orthodontics) and a full range of therapies by $50 a year for five years, persisting for the life of your policy.
Usually, when making a claim, all you need to do is swipe your membership card to have your claim processed on the spot.
You can also make easy claims by uploading receipts via their mobile claims app, email in a claims form with the appropriate documents, or do it face-to-face at one of their retail centres or Queensland Country Credit Union branch. Finally, you can claim up to $400 in benefits per day online using their online portal.