WHILE Australia’s LGBTI community is still waiting to see if marriage equality will become a reality in the near future, one company is helping the community get through the day to day complexities of life.
Health insurance is not the world’s sexiest topic, but it is important. It can become very stressful if you are LGBTI and want to add your partner to your policy or identify your gender as non-binary.
The truth is, all Australian health insurers are legally obligated to cover same-sex couples and families under ‘Same-Sex Relationships (Equal Treatment in Commonwealth Laws) Act 2008’, but not all LGBTI people have the best experiences trying to get health insurance.
“I needed to call up HIF (Health Insurance Fund of Australia) and add my partner to my membership. I doubt that someone in a heterosexual relationship has ever thought twice about something so simple, but it can still be a big deal for some organisations to do this,” NSW man, Dean Caines said.
“In turn this simple task turns into something where, when you are in a same-sex relationship, you need to take a deep breath and brace for what might come on the other end of the phone.
“With HIF it was the easiest and most non-event that I have ever experienced. Exactly like it should be. It is great that more and more organisations are choosing from their own free will to be on the right side of history despite what may happen to their customer base.”
While some health funds still remain quiet on the subject of same-sex cover, HIF actively strives to embrace new customers from the LBGTQIA community and ensure their health and wellbeing needs are met.
HIF was insuring same-sex couples and families long before the Government’s legislation required them to do so.
“HIF has covered same-sex members for decades and we of course welcome new customers who are transgender or intersex as well,” HIF Executive Manager Anne Humphrey said.
“We’re using various social media platforms to reach these communities, as well as reflecting same-sex imagery in our advertising campaigns.
“We’re often accused of trying to make a political statement but that’s simply not the case. The health and happiness of our members is our number one priority, while our support of the Australian Marriage Equality campaign simply represents our stance on the importance of equality.
“After all, some of our own staff here are gay, so HIF’s support for their right to marry is important to us on a personal level as well.”
HIF has also incorporated the needs of trans and gender non-binary people into their health policies.
“We strive to support those members to the best of our ability, and the setup of our membership database and CRM system is more sophisticated than some of our competitors for that reason,” Humphrey said.
“For example, our system will allow a third option in the gender category which can be left blank if required, in order to ensure the needs of our non-binary gender members are met.
“And for transgender people, we will happily cover those members based on the personal criteria they select; so if someone wishes to update their name on their HIF membership, we can do that as soon as legal proof of their name change is supplied (e.g. an updated driver’s license showing that Mr John Smith is now Ms Joan Smith). And in terms of HIF’s health insurance options, we can pay benefits on a range of related procedures* such as sex reassignment surgery, or chest surgery for a trans-man.”
HIF has faced criticism for its support of LGBTI people and the Australian Marriage Equality campaign, but has mainly received positive feedback about its support of the community.
“We’ve received an overwhelmingly positive response from both our own members and the general public regarding our support of same-sex marriage,” Humphrey said.
“Of course, as per the nature of social media in particular, we’ve had our trolls and our detractors over the years – but we’re standing firm because we think marriage equality is a really important issue.”
To find out more about HIF and get an instant health insurance quote, visit www.hif.com.au/loveislove.
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* Private hospital insurance benefits are payable by HIF when (a) a member holds an appropriate level of Hospital Cover; and (b) the planned procedure is listed on the Medicare Benefits Schedule and deemed medically necessary by Medicare.