Superannuation for Surgery

Why use superannuation?

There are a few roadblocks that face a person who wants to change/save their life through bariatric surgery.

  • Cost of surgery in Australia
  • Long wait times if you go through the public system (2-3 years+)
  • Long wait if you have to take out private health cover (12 months)
  • Cost of private health cover and still have out of pocket expenses
  • The extra cost of travel and accommodation if no facility in your town/city

Because bariatric surgery is not generally covered by Medicare (Commonwealth funds GP’s and drugs, States fund hospitals) and the cost of surgery is so high in Australia, there is a growing trend for people to access their superannuation to pay the cost and head overseas to have it done.

Do I qualify to use Superannuation?

There are some grounds on which you can apply to have an early release of superannuation. There is a mechanism by which patients can apply to the ATO to access if their GP and Specialist thinks the weight condition is life-threatening. There are going to be few GP’s who won’t agree that someone’s life is at risk because of obesity. It may be that your BMI does not fit in the qualification range – but ask your GP what the reason is that they don’t think you should have bariatric surgery. If they aren’t helpful, get a second opinion! Obesity-related illness is the 2nd biggest killer behind smoking.

Why use Superannuation?

Numerous clients say the same thing. “If I’m not going to be alive to use my super, what’s the point in having it?” Having this surgery has a profound effect on your life expectancy, especially if you have obesity-related illnesses such as Type 2 Diabetes. You may be able to work longer than you could have before, meaning you will more than likely pay back that super anyway over time.

Who signs off?

You will need your GP to sign off on the paperwork from the ATO along with a separate form from the bariatric specialist. It MUST be an Australian GP and Specialist. Your Superannuation provider also needs to agree to your request. (this comes later) Some people will go to their local GP first, get a referral to a gastric surgeon – then complete the super process with a local Australian quote – then decide whether to proceed locally or use their money to go overseas. Some people will finance the surgery overseas and pay that finance back once the superannuation draws down occurs.

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What’s the process?

Can I use the funds to have my surgery overseas?

Once the funds are deposited into your account, you can use them for surgery overseas. (you are not constrained to use the quotes you have provided) It is your money after all. There is no report you have to complete once the surgery is completed. If clients have money left over, some will put back into their super fund. Some people have uses the savings to fund reconstructive surgery a few years later (excess skin etc), others will use it to upgrade flights or their hotel!

Are there any downsides?

Again, we cannot provide financial advice and each individual has different future plans and requirements.  It is obvious however you are removing money from your retirement fund.  It is advisable to seek financial advice from an accountant or a Superannuation specialist if you are unsure about your retirement.

As mentioned above, the cost of doing nothing could be MUCH higher. Your life.

Can I use my partners/husbands/wife’s superannuation?

The ATO website has a lot of information about using another person’s superannuation to fund surgery for life-threatening medical conditions.

Contact us if you would like more information.

PLEASE NOTE: We cannot provide advice about whether Early Release of Superannuation is right for your individual circumstances. You should talk to a Financial Planner or Consultant to find out if it’s right for you.

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