Bronze Private Health Cover: What do I need to know?

The Federal Government has introduced a new tiered system of private hospital insurance which will begin rolling out from 1 April, 2019. Under this new system health funds will have to classify hospital policies into four tiers – Gold, Silver, Bronze and Basic, by 1 April, 2020. Here is a breakdown of what the Bronze tier of cover includes.

This new tiered system is part of a series of reforms designed to make private health insurance easier to understand, particularly when it comes to what policies do and do not cover. Each tier of hospital insurance will carry minimum coverage requirements for medical treatments and services. Insurers can also offer Plus policies for the Basic, Bronze and Silver tiers, which can include additional coverage on top of the minimum requirements.

Below we take a look at what the minimum hospital inclusions are for Bronze policies.

What is the Bronze tier of cover?

The new Bronze tier of hospital cover will be the third-highest level of cover out of the four main tiers, sitting above Basic but below Silver and Gold. It will offer the same minimum coverage requirements as a Basic policy, but include cover for an additional 18 hospital treatment categories, including joint reconstructions, ear, nose and throat treatments and gastrointestinal endoscopies.

bronze cover knee
Source: Praisaeng (Shutterstock)

What hospital cover does the Bronze tier include?

Bronze policies will provide cover for a minimum total of 21 hospital treatment categories as a private patient. Of these, the government has indicated that rehabilitation, hospital psychiatric services and palliative care may be offered on a restricted basis (whereby insurers pay a limited amount towards these treatment categories and there may be out-of-pocket expenses), while the remaining 18 treatment categories are unrestricted (meaning patients won’t have to pay out-of-pocket hospital costs apart from their excess).

The categories covered under a Bronze policy are:

Tick Rehabilitation (Restricted cover permitted) Bronze health cover medal Miscarriage and termination of pregnancy
Tick Hospital psychiatric services (Restricted cover permitted) Bronze health cover medal Chemotherapy, radiotherapy and immunotherapy for cancer
Tick Palliative care (Restricted cover permitted) Bronze health cover medal Pain management
Bronze health cover medal Brain and nervous system Bronze health cover medal Skin
Bronze health cover medal Eye (not cataracts) Bronze health cover medal Breast surgery (medically necessary)
Bronze health cover medal Ear, nose and throat Bronze health cover medal Diabetes management (excluding insulin pumps)
Bronze health cover medal Tonsils, adenoids and grommets Bronze health cover medal Male reproductive system
Bronze health cover medal Bone, joint and muscle Bronze health cover medal Digestive system
Bronze health cover medal Joint reconstructions Bronze health cover medal Hernia and appendix
Bronze health cover medal Kidney and bladder Bronze health cover medal Gastrointestinal endoscopy
Bronze health cover medal Gynaecology

Bronze health cover medal Indicates the clinical category is a minimum requirement of the Bronze tier.

What is not included?

There are 17 hospital treatment categories that are not included as a minimum requirement of the Bronze tier. These are:

cross icon Heart and vascular system cross icon Joint replacements
cross icon Lung and chest cross icon Dialysis for chronic kidney failure
cross icon Blood cross icon Pregnancy and birth
cross icon Back, neck and spine cross icon Assisted reproductive services
cross icon Plastic and reconstructive surgery (medically necessary) cross icon Weight loss surgery
cross icon Dental surgery cross icon Insulin pumps
cross icon Podiatric surgery (provided by a registered podiatric surgeon) cross icon Pain management with device
cross icon Implantation of hearing devices cross icon Sleep studies
cross icon Cataracts

As these treatments are not a minimum requirement, your insurer does not need to provide cover for them under a Bronze policy. If you want cover for one or several of the above treatments as a minimum requirement, you may want need to consider the Silver or Gold tiers of hospital cover.

What is Bronze Plus (+)?

Under the new health insurance reforms, insurers may choose to offer additional cover under the Basic, Bronze and Silver categories in addition to the minimum prescribed categories. These upgraded categories can feature the name of the policy along with the word Plus or a plus sign, such as Bronze Plus or Bronze +. For example, you could have a Bronze Plus policy that includes cover for dental surgery, which would normally only be available under a Silver or Gold policy.

This is not a required category and it is up to insurers to determine if they wish to include a Bronze Plus policy in their product offerings. If they do, it is also up to them to determine what additional benefits they will offer under such a policy and what restrictions and exclusions apply.

Who may suit Bronze cover?

Based on its lower level of cover, Bronze tier policies may be particularly suited to those who are generally fit and healthy, with no serious history of illness and who are not planning to have a family (as there will be no pregnancy, birth or reproductive cover under standard Bronze policies).

As the Bronze tier provides treatment for joint reconstructions and bone, joint and muscle treatments, it may also be suited for those who live an active lifestyle or who have a physically demanding job where these treatments may be needed. On the other hand, if you expect you may require cover for your back and neck or joint replacement surgery, then you may want to consider a policy from a higher tier, as these treatments will not generally be offered under Bronze policies.

Deciding whether the Bronze tier of cover is right for you will ultimately depend on your personal circumstances and needs. When researching your options, it is important to read the policy inclusions and exclusions carefully and consider contacting your chosen fund to understand the restrictions which may apply.

If you currently have private health insurance, keep a look out for further details from your health fund on how these reforms may affect your existing policy. You may notice your insurer renames your product or adds or removes services to fit your policy into a higher or lower tier of cover come 1 April. If you need further details on what you will and will not be covered for and whether there will be any changes to your existing policy, contact your insurer directly.

For more information on the health insurance reforms, read this article or contact the Department of Health. A breakdown of the minimum coverage requirements for the other tiers can be found under the following – Basic, Silver and Gold.

Cover image source: Nermin Kahrimanovic (Shutterstock)

Share this article

Enjoyed reading this article?

Sign up to receive more news like this straight to your inbox

By subscribing you agree to the Canstar Privacy Policy.

Thanks for signing up!

Good things are coming your way.