As a serving member of the ADF, you probably don’t give much thought to the health system. But whether you’re single or married with kids, it’s something you’ll need to get your head around when you transition.
While you’re preparing for transition, it’s a good idea to attend one of the transition seminars that are held on base or at a Transition Centre. They are very useful in explaining all the things that will change when you move to civilian life.
Defence also has a very helpful Transition Handbook to guide you through the process leading up to transition.
You are entitled to medical and dental treatment through Defence up to, but not beyond your transition date. So it’s important to meet any existing health care needs during the last 12 months of your service.
You’ll need to be registered for Medicare to see the GP, purchase prescription medicine from the chemist, or for treatment in a hospital. So if you don’t already have a Medicare card, that’s the first thing you need to arrange. You can either download the application form or visit a Centrelink or Medicare service centre.
Medicare subsidises the cost of all Australians’ health treatment. As an outpatient – that’s when you see the doctor or a specialist but you’re not a patient in hospital – Medicare contributes 85% of the Medicare Benefit Schedule fee. The MBS is like a giant catalogue of medical procedures and government-determined prices. If you’re an admitted inpatient of a public hospital, Medicare will cover 100% of the accommodation and medical charges while in hospital.
However, lengthy waiting lists apply for treatment in public hospitals. Depending on where you live and the degree of urgency, a waiting period for elective surgery can range from months to years.
If you take out private hospital insurance you’ll have access to a large network of private hospitals. In a private hospital you can choose your doctor and control the timing of your treatment.
As a Medicare cardholder you’re entitled to subsidised medicine through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS). Under this co-payment arrangement, you will pay up to $37.70 (or $6.10 for concession cardholders) for medicine listed on the PBS and the government will cover the remaining cost. The amount of co-payment is adjusted in line with inflation from 1 January each year.
Medicare doesn’t cover general treatment such as dental, physiotherapy, chiro, podiatry or optical. To access services such as these, you will need to pay the full cost yourself. Or you can take out a private health insurance ‘extras’ cover which will provide annual benefits towards a range of general treatment.
ADF Family Health Program
When you transition from the ADF, your dependants will no longer be eligible for the ADF Family Health Program benefits. That is, unless you’re transitioning as a Reservist on Continuous Full-Time Service. Depending on how extensively your family has used these benefits, you might want to look at private health insurance family extras cover or extras combined with hospital cover as a substitute.
Your transition journey will be unique to you and your family. While it might seem a little daunting beforehand, there are many people and support services to help ease you into civilian life. If you want to find out more about how private health insurance can help meet your – or your family’s – health care needs, visit Defence Health or give us a call on 1800 335 425.