DVA Health Card: Am I Covered For Health Insurance?

Article was originally written by TJ Ryan on November 19, 2015.

Is private health insurance still helpful if you already have the benefit of a DVA Health Card?

Department of Veteran Affairs issued health cards help veterans, war widowers and dependents get access to health care services. Depending on the type of DVA card you hold, you may require extra cover through a private health insurance policy.

Do I need health insurance if I have a DVA Health Card?

Whether you need to take out private health insurance basically depends on if you have a Gold, White, or Orange DVA health card. If you don’t already have a DVA Health Card but you’re eligible for one, you can apply for one through your nearest DVA office.

All DVA health card holders are entitled to free ambulance travel in an emergency and in approved non-emergency situations.

The tables below display snapshots of couples health insurance policies with cover for physiotherapy and with links to providers’ websites, sorted by Star Rating (highest-lowest) then by provider name (alphabetically). The Star Ratings and products listed below are based on a couple aged under 35 in New South Wales.

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Gold DVA card holders: do I need health insurance?

The DVA advises that Gold card holders have funding for services for all clinically necessary health care needs, and all health conditions, whether they are related to war service or not:

  • You are covered by DVA funding for all of your clinically necessary health care needs, including all health conditions, no matter whether or not the condition is related to war service. This means medical treatment is free for you anywhere in Australia, including for free glasses and other optometry care, most dental services and dentures, physiotherapy and chiropractic services, hearing aids, living aids including mobility appliances, psychologists, and podiatry services and footwear.
  • You are covered for hospital treatment; you are entitled to be treated as a private patient when you need to visit a hospital, with a choice of doctor, in a shared ward.
  • Because you are treated as having private health insurance, you will not be charged lifetime health cover loading for not holding health insurance at tax time.
  • You get a concession discount on medication for accepted conditions through the Repatriation Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (RPBS). If you have reached your Safety Net, you can get these medications for free.
  • You are covered for 28 days of free respite care.

One thing worth considering is getting travel insurance when travelling overseas. Your DVA cover will not help you in foreign countries, but travel insurance will cover certain medical needs that may come up.

White DVA card holders: do I need health insurance?

The DVA advises that White card holders should consider private health insurance for the treatment of any conditions not covered by their White card. Basically, this means any condition not caused by or related to war service.

The White card provides the following cover:

  • You are entitled to treatment for injuries and conditions that are related to war service. You may be entitled to free glasses and optical services, dental services, hearing aids, living aids including mobility appliances, and podiatry services and footwear, if your condition is related to war service or an accepted disability.
  • You are entitled to treatment for malignant cancer, pulmonary tuberculosis, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and/or depression, no matter whether it was related to war service.
  • You are entitled to treatment for the symptoms of unidentifiable conditions that come up within 15 years of war service.
  • You are entitled to be treated as a private patient when you need to visit hospital, with a choice of doctor, in a shared ward.
  • Your transport costs to get to and from medical treatment are covered.
  • You get a concession discount on medication for accepted conditions through the Repatriation Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (RPBS). If you have reached your Safety Net, you can get these medications for free.
  • You are covered for 28 days of free respite care.

Orange DVA card holders: do I need health insurance?

The Orange card only provides a concession on medications in the RPBS, and does not cover medical treatment. For this reason, if you have an Orange card it may be a good idea to consider private health insurance to cover any medical needs that are not already covered by Medicare.

The Orange card provides the following cover:

  • You get a concession discount on medication for accepted conditions through the Repatriation Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (RPBS). If you have reached your Safety Net, you can get these medications for free.

Here are some examples of things that may be covered by health insurance extras cover but not by Medicare:

  • Physiotherapy
  • Optometrists and glasses
  • General dental
  • Podiatry services

Insurance can make a substantial contribution towards your medical costs. Of course, you need to make sure you can fit paying an insurance premium into your budget, as every person’s financial situation is different.

Some health insurance providers may offer a discount on your premium if you let them know that you are a veteran. There is even Defence Health, which provides insurance exclusively to ADF and active reservists and their families. Defence Health has a mental health program called MindStep that can help if you are struggling with any mental health issues. MindStep was adapted from the UK model and is the first program of its kind to be used in Australia.

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