I got the quote to get my tooth fixed, $2700. Then I went to my health insurance company to find out how much was covered: none. That's major dental, and I'm only covered for basic dental.
Guess what? It looks like I'm just going to keep having an empty space in my mouth, and keep getting food stuck in my gum until I learn how to eat without using that part of my mouth.
In a sense, it's my own fault I don't have a health insurance that covers this. I recently gave up my hospital cover, deciding to trust the public system, and just kept basic extras cover. The reason for this choice was simple: I just couldn't afford it, and the public system has always been there when I needed it. (A couple of times I've been rushed to an emergency department in severe pain and had surgery within 24 hours - for service like that, I'm happy to wait my turn when whatever I need isn't urgent.) When I've been able to afford hospital cover, I've opted for the private system to leave space for someone who needed the public system. I've just had to come to the decision that I can't afford the private system anymore. (Isn't it wonderful to be in Australia, where we have that choice?)
I could have chosen eat less, or sell my car, or give up my pets, to keep the hospital cover, but I chose to sacrifice the insurance - however with hospital insurance, went the "major dental".
Extras cover, I could keep for about $30 a month. Now, I am trying to decide if it really is necessary. With a chronic illness, I can get some ancillary treatment on a teamcare program managed by my doctor. I can get up to five free visits to a physiotherapist, dietician, psychologist or podiatrist each year. That doesn't cover optometrists, and the previous chronic illness dental program has been axed.
I've checked, there is a government program for glasses, but it doesn't cover graduated lenses. And there is a community dental program.
If I just saved the money I've been paying in extras cover, I might just about cover the difference between what's available publicly and what I have now anyway.
So the question is: is health insurance worth it at all, particularly for a middle-aged woman, with a chronic illness, living on a low income?
A great place to compare health insurance policies, without having anyone try to make money from you is the government comparison site: http://www.privatehealth.gov.au/. After looking through, I can't find any that I can afford that would do everything I need.
So, I've given up hospital cover, and while I'm thinking about it a bit longer, I'm leaning toward giving up extras cover as well.
If I were designing a health insurance policy for someone in my position (middle-aged woman, with chronic health issues, living on a disability support pension): it would include, all dental (forget major/minor - just teeth stuff done by a qualified person up to a set limit); all the usual things that are possible with ageing and with chronic illness (so everything from hearts to joints to brains); it would cover physiotherapy, psychology, eyes, dietetics and pharmacy. It would not cover pregnancy, assisted reproduction and random alternative therapies. There seem to be lots of cheaper policies aimed to get young people into health insurance, but there don't seem to be any affordable ones for people at my life stage.