Gym membership is on the chopping block for many Aussies right now as the cost-of-living crisis continues to bite. But did you know you might be able to recoup some of that cost via your health insurance?
In fact, hundreds of thousands of Aussies can but the vast majority don’t realise it so health insurance companies keep the money instead.
Here's the trick you need to know.
Your 'health management’ bucket of funds
Most private health insurers – the good ones at least – have a claims category in extras cover called ‘health management’ or something similar. In here will be the preventative stuff – the practices and services that keep you healthy. The idea is, of course, to lower your claims for the bigger, more expensive categories. You may be able to, for example, participate in subsidised - or entirely covered - weight-management classes or services, childbirth education, breastfeeding support and learn-to-swim classes.
Also by Nicole Pedersen-McKinnon:
Yes, you also might not realise that it is common, under most health insurance extras policies, to be able to claim kids’ swimming lessons, year after year. (I will get into the limits and refund opportunities for health management in just a moment).
But gym membership and personal training fall into another largely unknown health-management claims category. All you need to do to qualify is to be able to say the services are necessary for your health. Not your general health but, for example, for a former injury or rehabilitation from some sort of body niggle.
How to get a gym claim across the line
In most cases, getting your health insurer to cover some of the cost of your health and fitness requires a simple form. Australia’s five biggest insurers variously call it a Health management and PT medical form (Bupa), a Health improvement benefit approval form (AHM), or an Exercise and gym benefits authorisation and claim (HCF). Medibank and Nib also have similar forms to fill out in order to access this saving.
The form relevant to you just needs to be signed by your general practitioner, physiotherapist, occupational therapist, exercise physiologist, dietician, chiropractor, osteopath, psychologist, diabetes educator or Aboriginal health worker (it will depend on your fund).
How much you could claim
Usually, the health-management or similar claims category carries a combined family limit, of say $400 a year. It may then be capped individually at $200. Again, it varies from insurer to insurer, and you will need decent extras cover (though not necessarily top cover) to have access to this ‘exercise’ subsidy.
But if two members apply and are approved, that might give you $400 a year back, which possibly effectively cancels almost a month’s premium.
Could you (and your partner) be working out far cheaper by - at the same time - working the health insurance system? Because, remember, in more ways than one: health is wealth.