Using Super for Surgery (in the news): Recent news stories have highlighted that some patients are using early withdrawal of their Super Fund assets for life changing surgery. It’s not a large proportion of patients but early withdrawal requests for Super for Surgery are commonly used for the following Surgery procedures.
Patients are using Super for Surgery for life-changing and life-enhancing surgical procedures.
Requests for early Super release for Surgery are typically made on compassionate grounds and are being used to address chronic and/or life-threatening health conditions. But they are also used for life enhancing surgeries, and the argument has been that quality of life impacts overall health, well-being and longevity.
The Seven Surgeries that Super Can Pay For include:
- Bariatric Weight Loss Surgery
- Breast Reduction Surgery
- Reconstructive Surgery
- Skin Reduction Surgery after Weight Loss
- Dental Surgery
- Orthopaedic Surgery
And many couples are using early withdrawal of their Super Fund (Superannuation) to help pay for infertility treatments, which are notoriously expensive over time.
More information is shown below on Australian trends in increases in patient requests to use Super for Surgery.
Why are patients wanting to use their early withdrawal of Super for Surgery?
One of the most notable areas of patients wanting to use Super Fund resources for life-changing surgery relates to the problem of Obesity in Australia.
Sadly, the current Medicare health system does not cover a surgical weight loss treatment for this chronic disease. And not all patients have Private Health Cover. Even if they do, there is typically a gap that can be in the thousands of dollars.
In the case of the recurring problem of obesity and the effective treatment option of weight loss Surgery, many patients are left to fund their own surgery procedures, which can be very costly.
In cases like Obesity and weight loss surgery, patients have been known to request early withdrawal of Super Fund / Superannuation resources to have this surgery. The scenario is that, for many patients who struggle with chronic Obesity, their lives would be cut short, without an effective treatment such as weight loss surgery.
A number of patients would simply not live long enough to use their Super anyway unless they first overcome the problems associated with chronic Obesity, that hasn’t been resolved by non-surgical approaches.
Using SUPER for Surgery: More on surgery that people may be able to use their Super Fund resources to fund.
- Weight Loss Surgery to reduce obesity and life-threatening health conditions (Gastric Sleeve, Gastric Bypass, Lap band or Gastric Balloon can help reduce cardiovascular risks and diabetes)
- Skin reduction surgery of redundant skin tissues to help return body contours after significant weight loss has occurred
- Breast Reduction Surgery or Reconstructive Breast Surgery (such as Breast Lift Surgery) to reduce back pain, shoulder pain or neck pain
- Abdominoplasty (Tummy Tuck) surgery to repair torn abs to strengthen the core abdominal muscles linked with back pain and urinary incontinence (e.g. to repair parts of the body damaged during pregnancy or childbirth or other abdominal traumas)
- Corrective Rhinoplasty after a nose injury or to repair a deviated septum interfering with proper breathing
- Blepharoplasty (Eyelid Lift Surgery) when sagging eyelids are impeding vision
- Male Breast Reduction for Gynaecomastia
- Infertility (helping to fund IVF treatments for couples who find themselves unable to get pregnant)
Early Requests for Super Fund Access for Surgery
Should you investigate the possibility of using Super for Surgery? Each individual must decide on their own and it often is a last resort for most patients. Also, whilst it is possible for some patients to gain early release for surgery, not everyone who applies will be able to gain early access to their super funds in Australia – even if they have compelling reasons for wanting to use their Super for life-changing surgery.
Here’s the history of recent requests for early release of Super for Surgery (Source: Department of Human Services)
In the year ending 2016, over $204 million Australian dollars were approved for early release from Super Funds. This appears to have covered a variety of reasons, including medical costs and surgery costs, increased costs of living, financial disruptions or the current housing cost crisis.
How DO patients typically pay for their Plastic Surgery procedures?
Again, requests for early release of Super for Surgery are not as common as the news stories would have you believe, although request have increased lately in a changing economy.
Options for paying for desired plastic or cosmetic surgery generally include Savings Accounts, pre-paying on a house mortgage as a form of Surgery Savings that can also reduce interest temporarily or reputable low interest credit providers, as well as early withdrawal requests of Super Funds based on compassionate grounds.
It is important to do your homework on any of these options and to recognise that early withdrawal of Super for Surgery payment methods is always up to each individual Super Fund administrator. For other types of rebates or funds for surgery, certain criteria may also apply.
Getting payment method advice is a great idea before embarking on any of these options for Surgery.
Sometimes, Medicare and/or your Health Funds will also contribute a small portion to the cost of certain corrective surgeries (but not Cosmetic Surgery). Phone the Patient Care Team OR contact your private Health Insurance Fund if you have questions about eligibility requirements. For Medicare Rebates for Corrective Surgery after pregnancy, for example, there are specific criteria for how old your children need to be BEFORE you qualify for any rebates on Abdominoplasty or Breast Reduction, for example. Other conditions that may qualify for minor rebates often need GP or Specialist evaluations, such as vision problems relating to sagging upper eyelids (requiring Corrective Eyelid Surgery known as an Upper Blepharoplasty) or repairing a damaged nose or deviated septum with Rhinoplasty.
But Medicare rebates and Health Fund Rebates are subject to change without notice; so plan ahead if you want to take advantage of any current eligibility for minor rebates.
Here are several reasons why our blogging team believes it’s important for patients with recurrent health problems to be able to request early access for Super to Pay for Surgery (when they have no other means to attain the surgery they require).
Common Reasons People request early release of Super Funds for Surgery
They want to be able to afford quality Australian Surgical Care – and good surgery performed in a top hospital doesn’t come cheap.
- Care standards & surgery safety precautions in Australian Hospitals are typically very high.
- Costs may also be higher as hospital theatre costs in Australia reflect many factors required to run a quality, safety-first facility with patient safety foremost in mind.
The rise in overseas medical tourism – including the consequential costs to Australia’s health care system due to many cases of botched cosmetic surgery performed overseas at cheap rates – may partially relate to the fact that people requiring surgery may have limited funds.
So some patients choose cheap or discounted surgery options with less qualified doctors or unknown medical doctors in foreign countries.
But overseas medical tourism can readily backfire, leading to disfigurement, psychological distress and the need for revision surgery (which is very expensive) and ongoing medical help. There is usually no easy way to seek recourse or revision from the original doctor, plus, not all surgical errors by less experienced Surgeon’s can be fixed.
Increased risks of medical tourism and surgery performed with unknown surgeons highlights the heightened risks. Our Patient Care Coordinators regularly receive calls from desperate patients who want revision surgery – but some things simply can’t be fixed.
Obesity: Weight Loss Surgery Saves Patient’s Lives
Sometimes, as in the case of Obesity and Weight Loss Surgery, the patient’s life is actually at risk. Obesity has many components – including misfiring brain synapses that prevent a person from burning body fat the way that others do. Without some form of change to their condition, such as via Bariatric surgery, a person suffering ongoing Obesity has a high risk of developing numerous chronic diseases that can lead to disability and an early death. So some patients who need weight loss surgery and post-weight loss body contouring (skin reduction) are using early release of their Super for surgery.
Skin Folds: Body Contouring After Weight Loss to Reduce Redundant Skin Folds that are causing problems and social discomfort
After losing weight through lifestyle changes or dietary changes, formerly heavy patients often have skin laxity (extra folds of loose skin). This excess skin causes recurrent skin infections for some patients as well as chaffing, social discomfort and back pain.
Having excess skin folds after weight loss also impedes a person’s ability to exercise comfortably. So despite losing weight, the over-stretched skin that remains can still impinge on their ability to participate in cardiovascular exercises and to stay fit after losing weight after getting a Gastric Sleeve, Gastric Bypass, Lapband or Gastric Balloon procedure.
Large Breasts Causing Neck Pain and Back Pain: Breast Reduction Surgery can reduce physical pain and chronic skin conditions
Women who have heavy, large breasts are often plagued with a variety of problems, from balance problems to posture issues to back pain, neck pain and shoulder pain. But there’s also the skin issues of chaffing or bra-strap dig ins and social discomfort. Social, psychological and physical well being are all readily improved for most patients who choose Breast Reduction Surgery with a good Surgeon (it’s a highly complex procedure so you really want to get it right the first time).
Diastasis Recti (Separated, damaged Abdominal Muscles after pregnancy), Hernias and Skin Folds
Pregnancy and weight loss often leave redundant, sagging skin and a very changed abdominal region for Mums. For some patients, there is a LOT of extra skin. Skin folds and abdominal area sagging leave patients vulnerable to recurring skin infections as well as chaffing. This excess abdominal area fat, skin and weight also affects metabolism, mood and social well-being. For some women, depression about their changed bodies leads to diminished quality of life; whereas the right surgery at the right time, with a caring Plastic Surgeon, can make a major difference for them in numerous areas of their lives. Read our blogs about Diastasis Recti or the Abdominoplasty (Tummy Tuck) pages can provide information. Or phone (03) 8849 1444 and ask for a free downloadable Guide to Tummy Tuck Surgery (Abdominoplasty).
We are a sporting country, and as such, accidents are common. Noses get injured or broken and deviated septums are more common than people realise. Plus, some people are born with disproportionate nose sizes or shapes that leave them feeling unattractive. To correct breathing problems or provide a cosmetic enhancement, a well-executed “nose job” surgery procedure (Rhinoplasty surgery) for men or women can really help. Nose reshaping surgery is very complex, however, and can be costly to get a good Surgeon who can provide a satisfying surgical outcome. (Revision requests after Rhinoplasty are common, unfortunately, and many less experienced Surgeons can get this Surgery extremely wrong).
Eyelid Surgery to rectify Vision Impairment Caused by the sagging position of the ageing or injury-impacted eyelid
Sometimes ageing eyelids start to sag to the point they impact vision. When seeing clearly out of your eyes is made difficult due to sagging eyelid skin that covers some of your pupils, you may be eligible for a minor Medicare rebate on an Eyelid lift procedure (Blepharoplasty) (or a Health Fund rebate if you have private coverage). Criteria apply and evaluations are a must. Please note: these types of rebates do NOT apply to patients wanting cosmetic enhancements to their eye area and who’s vision is not impacted.
Male Breast Reduction for Gynaecomastia
Some men – many men in fact – develop puffy looking breasts due to a variety of reasons. Surgery can help correct this and for more information, visit the Male Breast Reduction surgery for Gynaecomastia page.
Infertility is common and impacts up to 1 in 3 couples, or even more. It’s a heart breaking condition and very expensive to treat with fertility enhancing options including In-vitro Fertilisation treatments (IVF). Many of these treatments need to be repeated over many months or even years, or require high-level care during pregnancy; resulting in very large financial expenditures that continue for many months or even decades.
So IVF treatments are a key area that lead some Australian couples to explore treatment payment methods options for early release of Super Funds to payment methods these recurring IVF treatments.
So there you have it, what the news articles are reporting is that people who want surgery are seeking ways to payment methods or fund their surgery from a variety of means, including requesting early release of Super for Surgery on compassionate or medical grounds.
FIND out more about early release of Super Funds or Superannuation for Surgery at this link:
For further information on the plastic surgery procedures listed above, send an enquiry form below or phone us during clinic hours on (03) 8849 1444 to speak with a caring, empathetic Patient Care Coordinator.