How Job Loss Impacts Health Insurance: A Guide for Medical Professionals

Updated 01/10/2022
How Job Loss Impacts Health Insurance: A Guide for Medical Professionals

Time to read : 3 Minutes

Australia has recently been experiencing an unforeseen rise in job losses, putting a strain on the economy and the health insurance landscape. The latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show that around 7.5% of Australians were unemployed for some time in the past year.

Now more than ever, understanding the repercussions of job loss on health insurance is beneficial and necessary for healthcare professionals around the country.

This guide offers medical professionals a deeper insight into the challenges faced by their patients, equipping them with strategies to help them through tough times. 

Health Insurance Coverage and Employment

A job signifies more than a paycheck – it's often tied to identity, mental health, and sense of wellbeing and achievement. Employment often acts as a conduit for connections outside the home and family life.

The Link Between Employment and Health Insurance

If you’re employed in a role where your benefits include tax concessions for holding health cover (and most policyholders receive the health insurance rebate), there’s a connection between your tax status and your health cover.

There are also specific industries where this may be more relevant than others – such as tax deductions for paramedics, which may make such demanding work more attractive to jobseekers.

A deeper layer to this linkage is the widespread inclusion of life insurance in employment packages. This additional benefit acts as a cushion that safeguards families against unforeseen tragedies and helps to ensure their welfare in a worst-case scenario.

Types of Health Insurance Plans

Here's a concise overview of health cover options:

Hospital Policies

One of the main types of health insurance is hospital cover. This applies to stays in hospital for treatment or surgery. It mitigates the worry of patients having to cover big treatment or health service bills, letting you focus on recovering.

Extras Cover

Extras cover helps with such costs as dentist visits, treatments with a physio, or even getting new glasses. It's an excellent way to look after your ongoing health without feeling a pinch in your pocket.

Combined Policies

This option provides the best of both worlds, covering hospital stays and extra services. It provides a safety net for your health needs.

Through these plans, some Australian employers are stepping up to ensure their team members have access to the care they need without incurring financial strain. This helps to foster a happier and healthier work environment for everyone.

The Immediate Effects of Job Loss on Health Insurance

Losing a job is a jolt, not just to your routine and your self-esteem but also to your health safety net. The immediate aftermath creates uncertainty over your future. Let’s discuss the swift ripple effects job loss has on your health cover, and the challenges it presents.

Loss of Coverage: Navigating the Uninsured Phase

Going through a spell without work can be daunting. However, it's crucial to approach this period with a strategic mindset. Find out if you’re eligible for governmental support or rebates, which can be a short-term financial lifesaver. It’s a good idea to think of unemployment as a transition and not the end of everything.

Negotiate with your health cover provider for a temporary extension of your coverage, affording you some time to regroup. Also consider reviewing affordable policies to cover your basic needs, preventing substantial gaps in your health cover. This is especially important if you have kids, and/or anyone relying on your cover for ongoing healthcare concerns.

Remaining proactive and informed will help you navigate this difficult period.

Financial Strain and Health Access Restrictions

The financial strain from a sudden loss of income can have implications for how and when medical services are sought.

Without income, routine visits to primary care physicians become a luxury, especially if bulk-billing practices are few and far between, such as in regional and rural areas. However, skipping or postponing appointments can lead to worsening health issues. This is equally true of trying to ‘stretch’ out prescription medications by filling them less often, or postponing recommended treatments to save money.

It's not just the proactive health measures that take a hit. In emergencies, the uninsured may hesitate to seek urgent care due to fear of excessive ambulance bills. Unless you live in Queensland or Tasmania, ambulance trips aren’t covered by Medicare. 

Added to this is the emotional weight. Financial constraints exacerbate mental health challenges, creating a vicious cycle where health concerns amplify financial woes.

In sum, job loss can create barriers to health access, underscoring the importance of supportive systems and safety nets.

Health Implications during Uninsured Periods

Beyond the immediate financial concerns, job losses can have profound implications for your wellbeing. Let's explore the often-overlooked health challenges that emerge during these times.

Delayed Medical Care: Risks and Complications

Delaying medical care might seem a viable option during the financial strain of unemployment. But when it comes to healthcare, timely intervention is critical. 

Yet, more people avoid timely healthcare and medical attention during periods of financial strain. The reasons? Financial constraints and the fear of mounting bills. But what seems like short-term savings can have long-term repercussions.

When routine health needs are postponed, minor ailments can snowball into significant health issues. A simple, treatable cough might escalate into a severe respiratory condition. Regular screenings like mammograms or blood tests could miss early detection of critical conditions.

Moreover, chronic diseases require consistent care. Diabetes, hypertension, and heart conditions don't wait for your new job contract. Delaying their management risks complications, leading to more intensive – and costly – treatments down the track.

It's not just your physical health you need to be aware of either. Mental health, often sidelined during a household budget crunch, can deteriorate without regular counselling or medication. 

Health complications don’t operate on our timeline. They demand timely attention, regardless of your employment status.

Impact on Preventative Services and Chronic Condition Management

Without insurance, even the foundational aspects of healthcare can be compromised. Preventative services often get sidelined when you’re watching every dollar. Such oversights can have ripple effects. Skipping a pap smear might lead to undetected cancer. Foregoing a cholesterol check can mask emerging heart risks.

Chronic conditions, too, can be neglected. Diabetes, for example, is a condition that demands rigorous monitoring and consistent medication. If you’re not covered, there's a temptation to bypass specialist appointments, which can escalate your health risks exponentially, turning manageable conditions into critical emergencies.

Mental health, which requires sustained care and treatment, can also be jeopardised, exacerbating existing conditions over time.

The actual cost of being uninsured extends beyond your finances. It jeopardises your health, and can turn minor issues into major crises, making chronic conditions harder to manage. 

Transitioning to Alternative Cover- Options

Medicare: Assessing Eligibility and Benefits

In Australia, understanding the nuances of Medicare is paramount, especially when re-evaluating your health cover options. 

It's essential to know whether you’re eligible for the benefits it provides. Generally, most Australians, permanent residents, and certain visa holders can access Medicare.

Typically, Medicare offers assistance with some hospital care costs, bulk-billing doctor's visits, and prescription medicines. It provides a solid foundation of health cover without any added financial strain.

During times of unemployment, Medicare can enable some access to essential healthcare services. Remember, being well-informed allows you to navigate the healthcare landscape proficiently.

Health Insurance Marketplace: Exploring Subsidised Plans

Finding the right private health insurance cover at a reasonable price is essential. There are a variety of plans that can help you save money while still getting good cover.

Take some time to learn about the different plans available. There are options to suit various needs and budgets, and many of these are supported by government subsidies, making them more budget-friendly for everyday Aussies.

If you need help figuring out where to start, consider chatting with an expert advisor. They can help you find a plan that matches your needs without this costing an arm and a leg.

Also, remember to review your plan from time to time. What works for you now might not be the best fit later on, especially once you've gone through your personal budget tightening. Regular check-ins help ensure you're getting the best value and the right level of cover.

Being well-informed can help you choose a cost-effective plan that suits your healthcare needs, without breaking the bank.

Importance of Timely Cover Restoration

Restoring cover swiftly once you're re-employed isn't merely about financial protection – it's about maintaining your health safety net.

Mitigating Long-Term Health Consequences

Delaying the restoration of insurance cover can have long-term health repercussions for you. Here's why swift action is so necessary.

Postponing care, even briefly, can have cascading effects. Missing routine screenings or treatments can evolve into more complex ailments. A dormant health condition may only become visible when it’s reached a severe stage – something you might have avoided with regular check-ups.

Chronic conditions, like arthritis or hypertension, require consistent care and oversight. A hiatus in cover can disrupt medication schedules, leading to complications that are both harder and more costly to treat.

Without timely coverage, mental wellbeing can deteriorate. The compounded stress of job loss and health concerns may aggravate existing anxiety or depression conditions.

The prompt restoration of health cover is a proactive step towards averting long-term health pitfalls. 

Getting Your Health Cover Back Up and Running After Job Loss

Here's a streamlined approach to swiftly regaining your health safety net:

Assess Your Immediate Health Needs

Take stock of your immediate health requirements. Knowing exactly which services or treatments you might need in the near future will help guide you towards a suitable plan, without paying for unnecessary extras.

Budget Considerations

Look at your budget objectively. Balancing comprehensive coverage with a budget-friendly plan is critical. Start with a basic plan if necessary. This can always be upgraded as your financial circumstances improve.

3. Seek Professional Advice

Next, consider consulting health insurance experts. Knowledge of various insurers and the pros and cons of policies can be a boon, steering you towards plans that align with your financial and health needs without straining your wallet.

4. Be Proactive

Use online comparison platforms that break down the various health insurance plans for you – you can call them if doing it online isn’t your thing. This proactive approach can speed up restoring your health cover.

With these strategies, you're well-equipped to promptly reclaim your health insurance, facilitating a smooth transition back into comprehensive healthcare protection.

Long-Term Considerations and Future Planning

Let's look at some recommendations for ensuring your sustained wellbeing, no matter the curveballs life throws.

Learning from the Experience: Building Emergency Health Plans

Here's how to craft a robust emergency health plan:

Savings Reserve 

A portion of your savings should be allocated for unexpected health emergencies. This can help cover premiums, deductibles, or out-of-pocket expenses during unforeseen events.

Stay Informed 

Regularly review your health insurance policy, benefit thresholds, and state-specific Medicare criteria. This proactive approach ensures you’re always across the resources available to you.

Regular Health Check-ups 

Even when insured, prioritise your regular health screenings. Early detection minimises complications and costs down the line.


Losing your job can mean facing heightened health risks, including delayed treatments and complications in managing chronic conditions. Medicare offers a viable safety net, but if you have immediate health concerns not covered by Medicare, speak to a health cover expert about your options.