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Life after the ADF
Life after the ADF
How to stay covered when you transition

As an Australian Defence Force (ADF) member, you may not have given 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. Hear from two Defence Health members that transitioned out of the ADF and what steps they took in the video below.

If you have questions about your health cover call Defence Health and we’ll be happy to assist you. Because that’s what we’re here for.

 

Stay covered when you transition to civilian life

Transitioning to civilian life is a big step. To make it easier, Defence Health offers some great health insurance options so you can continue to be covered. And if your family already has a policy, we can simply add you to it.

If you are transitioning out (or moving to SERCAT 2)

  • Choose from our range of great value mix and match health insurance products
  • 10% premium reduction on hospital or hospital and extras cover for the first 12 months following discharge when paying by direct debit

If you are moving from the permanent ADF (SERCAT 6-7) to active Reserves (SERCAT 3-5, serving 20 or more training days in a financial year)

  • You are eligible to stay on or move to our exclusive ADF packages
  • Or choose from our mix and match range at special ADF premiums

For more information on our exclusive ADF packages get a quote here.

No matter which option you choose, if you join within 2 months of discharging, we’ll waive the hospital and extras waiting periods.

We’re always here to help because that’s what a family is for. If you want a smooth transition into civilian life, the Defence Health family is here for you.

Your options
Where do I go if I'm sick?

Emergency

If you – or someone else – becomes seriously ill or is badly injured, you should call 000 for an ambulance. What qualifies as serious? Breathing difficulty, bleeding that won’t stop, broken bones, head injuries, chest pain or signs of a stroke are a few examples. Any of these symptoms require urgent treatment at an emergency department of a public hospital.

 

Medicare does not cover the cost of ambulance services and the average cost of emergency transport is more than $1,100. So it’s recommended that everyone in your family has ambulance cover either through private health insurance or a state ambulance subscription.

Non-Emergency

Your General Practitioner (GP), is normally the first port of call when you’re not well. The GP might prescribe medication; recommend changes to your exercise or dietary regimen; treat minor wounds or injuries on-the spot; or refer you to a specialist for further investigation.

If your GP bulk bills the cost of your visit will be fully covered by Medicare. If the GP does not bulk bill, you will have an out-of-pocket expense for each visit.

If a specialist recommends hospital treatment, you have a choice to be fully covered by Medicare as a public patient in a public hospital. Or, if privately insured, you can be treated as a private patient in a hospital of your choice.

Helpful information
DVA guidance

DVA and your health and wellbeing

The Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) provides support to current and former serving members and their families and carers through a range of services and payments (including ongoing or one off payments). These services are designed to assist you to manage your health and lifestyle and support those you care for. 

Lifetime Health Cover

The government encourages people to take out private hospital cover early in life and to maintain it. Lifetime Health Cover adds a 2% loading to premiums for every year after age 30 that someone remains without private hospital cover.

Once you attract a loading, it can only be removed after 10 continuous years of hospital cover.

Permanent members of the ADF while serving, are considered to have hospital cover. So Lifetime Health Cover doesn’t affect you until you discharge. 

To cover small periods of time without cover, everyone is allowed two years and 364 days without cover. 

If you discharge before your 31st birthday, the normal Lifetime Health Cover rules apply to you. 

If you discharge after 1 July following your 31st birthday, you can take out cover without a loading (unless you already had one when you enlisted). If you don’t take out hospital cover on discharge, you’ve got up to two years and 364 days before you’ll attract a loading. 

If you never take out private hospital cover, you won’t be affected. It’s only if you take it out later in life that you’ll be penalised.

More questions? Give us a call on 1800 335 425 and we'll be happy to help.

Get a quick quote
Join us
Cover with Defence Health

For more than 60 years Defence Health has been providing specially tailored private health insurance for ADF families and the Defence community. Defence Health has great value hospital and extras cover, generous benefits and excellent service. You'll be treated like one of the family.

Defence Health recognises your service. All waiting periods are waived if you join within two months of discharge. And if you choose a mix and match cover, you'll receive a 10% transition discount in the first 12 months of civilian life.

Special recognition for ex-serving

  • If you join within two months of discharge we'll waive all waiting periods
  • 10% premium reduction on hospital or hospital and extras cover for the first 12 months following discharge when paying by direct debit
  • If you have a Gold Card you don't need to cover yourself but we'll continue to offer your family great value cover
  • 5% ongoing premium reduction for White Card holders on civilian cover and Gold Card holders who choose to maintain cover (excluding Essentials Hospital, Public Hospital and standalone Extras covers)

 

A helpful tool
Checklist
  • I have attended a transition seminar and have read the Transition handbook

    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.

    Download Transition handbook

  • I have taken care of my existing health care needs

    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.

    Even niggling aches or pains should be checked out by Defence before you transition.

  • I have gathered all paperwork related to my health whilst I was serving

    If you need Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) assistance down the track it will be helpful to have a comprehensive medical record that includes all aspects of your health at the time of leaving the ADF.

    Make sure you gather all these items before you transition.

  • I know what support DVA offers and who to contact for assistance

    The Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) provides support to current and former serving members and their families and carers through a range of services and payments (including ongoing or one off payments). These services are designed to assist you to manage your health and lifestyle and support those you care for.

    As a former ADF member, you could be entitled to a DVA Gold Card or White Card.

    DVA health cards can provide access to a broad range of treatment and services including hospital treatment, theatre fees, intensive care, GP services, referred specialist services, allied health, dental care, optical services and ambulance cover. Health card holders can also be covered for a wide range of rehabilitation devices and appliances, pharmaceutical needs and travel for treatment.

    The DVA Gold Card will provide cover for any clinically necessary health care needs, whether they are related to war service or not.

    A White Card provides cover for the care and treatment of specifically accepted injuries or conditions that are war caused or service related. The White Card will also cover malignant cancer, pulmonary tuberculosis, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), alcohol and substance use disorders, anxiety and depression whether war-caused or not.

    If you think you might be eligible for a White Card or Gold Card, you should contact DVA. The fact sheets at dva.gov.au explain who can obtain a health card.​

  • I understand what Non-Liability Health Care is and how to access it

    The Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) pays for all treatment for certain mental and physical health conditions without the need for the conditions to be accepted as related to service. This is known as Non-Liability Health Care. It covers treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, anxiety, and alcohol and substance use disorders.

    Anyone who has ever served in the permanent forces of the Australian Defence Force may receive treatment for the above mental health conditions, regardless of when they served, for how long, or the nature of their service.​

    Importantly, a diagnosis is not required at the time of applying for mental health support. And you do not need to prove the condition is the result of your service.

    Complete the Application for Health Care for Certain Mental Health Conditions, email NLHC@dva.gov.au or call DVA on 1800 555 254. For more information visit the Department of Veterans' Affairs.

    Depending on your type of service, treatment for malignant cancer and pulmonary tuberculosis is also available under Non-Liability Health Care. But you will need to have been formally diagnosed before making an application to DVA.

  • I am aware of the government initiatives that will affect me once I transition

    Private health insurance rebate

    Most people who take out private hospital cover receive a sweetener from the government in the form of a rebate on their premium. The amount of rebate is determined by income and by the age of the oldest person on the policy. The government adjusts the rebate each year by an amount linked to the inflation rate. Check the rebate tiers and income thresholds at ato.gov.au

    Medicare Levy Surcharge

    The health system is partly funded by a 2% Medicare Levy collected when you lodge your tax return. As a permanent ADF member, you would've been either fully exempt from paying the levy, or only paid 1% if you had a family.

    The Medicare Levy Surcharge is an additional charge on top of the standard levy. It's applied on a progressive scale to higher income taxpayers who do not hold appropriate private patient hospital insurance. If you are a high income earner, you should consider private health insurance to avoid the surcharge. Check out the income thresholds and tax rates at ato.gov.au to see if you're affected.

    Lifetime Health Cover

    The government encourages people to take out private hospital cover early in life and to maintain it. Lifetime Health Cover adds a 2% loading to premiums for every year after age 30 that someone remains without private hospital cover.

    Once you attract a loading, it can only be removed after 10 continuous years of hospital cover.

    Permanent members of the ADF while serving, are considered to have hospital cover. So Lifetime Health Cover doesn't affect you until you discharge.

    To cover small periods of time without cover, everyone is allowed two years and 364 days without cover. If you discharge before your 31st birthday, the normal Lifetime Health Cover rules apply to you.

    If you discharge after 1 July following your 31st birthday, you can take out cover without a loading (unless you already had one when you enlisted). If you don't take out hospital cover on discharge, you've got up to two years and 364 days before you'll attract a loading.

  • I understand how the health system works and have a Medicare card

    Medicare ensures all Australians have access to government-subsidised medical, optical and hospital care.

    Every health service that Medicare funds is itemised in the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS). This enormous list defines the fee that Medicare sets for a service. Medicare will then contribute a percentage of the relevant fee for itemised medical treatment.

    If you visit a doctor or specialist outside of hospital, Medicare will contribute 85% of the MBS fee. You will have to pay the gap between the Medicare rebate and the doctor’s charge, which is often higher than the MBS fee.

    To enrol for a Medicare card, you’ll need to complete the application form which is downloadable from the Department of Human Services website or available at a Centrelink or Medicare service centre.

  • I understand how private health insurance works

    And it's not just a case of 'join the queue'. As emergencies and more critical patients come along, their clinical needs take priority and you get bumped down the list. Private hospital cover gives you access to a network of hundreds of private hospitals. So you'll get more timely treatment. It also covers a minimum of 25% of the MBS fee when your specialist treats you in a private hospital - and Medicare will pay the other 75%. Most funds will also have some form of 'gap cover' which, if used by your doctor, will cap or remove your out-of-pocket medical expenses. 

    Extras cover reduces the cost of the every-day health care services that help keep you well and out of hospital. Dental treatment is the classic example – it’s a must-have treatment that in most cases can’t be claimed through Medicare.

    The treatment covered varies from a handful of categories for budget cover, up to a wide range of substantial health and wellness benefits for higher cover.

Sponsorships and funding
Our community

Sponsorships for the Defence community

We support the Defence community through sponsorship of Defence community groups and organisations like Defence Families of Australia and the Defence Special Needs Support Group.

If you have a Defence related conference or community event you think we should know about, just drop us a line. If it supports the Defence community and reflects our family values, then we’ll be keen to check it out. Sponsorship enquiries should be directed to Ali Berlioz-Nott, Defence Community Relationship Manager, on alison.berlioz-nott@defencehealth.com.au

 

Funding medical research for the Defence community

The Defence Health Foundation funds medical research aimed at helping serving and ex-serving ADF personnel and their families. The Foundation awards grant funding for a wide range of research - from testing the effectiveness of wound repair materials to preventing bone and muscle injury during Army recruitment training and supporting the mental health of the serving and ex-serving community. Successful grant recipients are announced at the end of every year. For more information visit the Defence Health Foundation website.

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