Everyone knows how important it is to brush twice daily and floss for healthy teeth and gums. No doubt, your dentist reminds you at every six-monthly visit. But did you know that there are lots of things you can do to prevent the serious and growing problem of tooth erosion?
‘Your tooth enamel is the hardest substance in the body and it is designed to protect the inside of your teeth’ says Dr Lincoln Law, dentist at the healthy teeth clinic in Surry Hills.
‘But acidic foods and drinks can damage the teeth by etching away at the thin layer of enamel. This leads to sensitivity and this can leave your pearly whites less than white,’ he adds.
Tooth sensitivity: why it happens
‘Teeth are made up from layers, the outer surface is enamel and when this is worn away, the dentine layer is exposed, which is a yellowy or off-white colour. Dentine has tiny holes in it and via these holes, hot and cold temperatures and even sweetness, and sour tastes can reach the nerves causing pain.’ Explains Dr Lincoln.
More and more people are being affected by sensitive teeth, a problem that can start early in life. Plus, if tooth erosion affects the adult teeth, the results are permanent because enamel doesn’t grow back!
It’s all about pH
‘Both acids and alkaline are measured via a system called pH and your mouth has a pH of around seven (a pH of one is very acidic and 14 is very alkaline). So seven is neutral because it’s right in the middle of the pH scale.
‘So, acidic drinks – such as cola which has a pH of around three – erodes enamel i.e. it dissolves the calcium salts in it. See for yourself – if you have a baby tooth to experiment with, drop it into a glass of cola and it will eventually dissolve. Foods such as pickles and vinegars, and drinks such as wine also etch away at your enamel,’ he says.
Enamel erosion can have other causes too, including:
Acid reflux – where acid from the stomach flows up the mouth causing the pain of heartburn). The acid usually affects the teeth at the back of the mouth.
Frequent vomiting – which can be caused by medicines and also the condition bulimia. This also erodes the back or chewing teeth.
Over-brushing or using abrasive toothpaste – both can wear down your precious enamel.
Physical wear and tear – including tooth-to-tooth grinding, which can lead to the gradual loss of enamel.
What you can do
‘Leave some time between eating acidic foods or consuming acidic drinks – including breakfast juices and tooth brushing. This is because the acid will have softened the enamel. And, brushing too soon can literally brush enamel away. So brush before food and rinse your mouth with water afterwards,’ Dr Lincoln advises.
Remember, it can take up to 30 minutes for the surface of a tooth to get back to normal pH after an acidic drink so wait at least this long before brushing.
Sensitive teeth can be treated with high-strength fluoride toothpaste or remineralising pastes containing calcium and phosphate. If the damage is severe, though, you may need restorative dentistry.
Practical tips to protect your enamel
Don’t brush too soon after eating foods with acids in them (including pickles and ketchup) and drinks (such as juices and wine).
Eat fruits as part of a meal since chewing stimulates saliva, which is your body’s natural way to cleanse your mouth.
Avoid fizzy drinks, especially with screw caps to discourage sipping throughout the day. ‘If you want a fizzy drink, drink in one go and use a straw to reduce contact with the teeth. Rinse your mouth with water afterwards. Remember that juices and some alcoholic drinks including wine are also acidic and spirits with juices plus cider. Sparkling water has less of a damaging effect but still contains acid,’ advises Dr Lincoln.
See your GP if you are having problems with acid reflux.
See your dentist to check you haven’t cracked a tooth or filling that’s causing the sensitivity.
All too often people take out health cover at one life stage and forget to update it as their needs, and the needs of their family, change over time. Peta Gane, from rt’s member services team, shares some expert tips to getting the right kind of cover for your needs – and why your health cover should have an occasional health check!
‘We’ve all heard about people caught without the right level of health cover. It’s really distressing for the person and for us when we find someone is on the wrong cover for their needs. That’s why it’s so important to give your health cover a health check from time to time,’ she says.
Peta says she and the team at rt find people who might be on the wrong type of cover by looking at their age and the level of cover they have, and by comparing it with data that tells them the types of medical treatments people in those age groups are most likely to use.
Taking a proactive approach and reviewing your health cover by talking to a representative will make sure your needs are met. Peta explains saying: ‘It’s important to encourage people to give their health cover a regular check. And, there are a number of life events and stages when checking your level of cover may be especially important.’ These include:
01You’re turning 31, thinking of dropping your hospital cover or if you’re new to Australia
You may be at risk of getting stuck with a Lifetime Health Cover (LHC) loading if:
you don’t have private hospital insurance before 1 July following your 31st birthday
you’re over the age of 31 and have had hospital cover, but let it lapse
you’ve moved to Australia and are eligible to receive full Medicare entitlements.
‘The LHC loading is a government penalty designed to encourage people to take out
private hospital cover and to keep it. Once you have an LHC loading, you’ll have to
pay it for ten continuous years, so avoiding it or minimising it as early as possible is
important – the team at rt can show you how,’ says Peta.
02 You’re planning a trip
Australian private health insurance only covers you for treatment you receive in Australia and for products and services you buy in the country. So, if you’re heading overseas for 28 days or more, suspend your cover.
03 You get a pay rise
‘If you’re earning over a certain amount and you don’t have private hospital cover, you’ll be charged an additional tax called the Medicare Levy Surcharge (MLS). Single people earning over $90,000 a year and couples/families earning over $180,000 are affected. If this applies to you, you’re better off having hospital cover than paying the extra tax – you’ll avoid the surcharge and gain all the benefits of private cover. The income tiers are set by the tax office; the current tiers are in place until 30 June 2018,’ explains Peta.
04 You’re planning a family
‘Having a baby is an exciting time and one of your most important considerations will be where you plan to have your baby and who you want to see you through your pregnancy.’ Peta urges you to check that the hospital cover you have includes pregnancy in a private hospital and remember that waiting periods may apply before you’re covered if you are new to a fund or if you upgrade to a cover that includes pregnancy. ‘If you have a single membership with rt, for example, you’ll need to upgrade to a family or sole-parent family membership at least two months before the baby’s due date. If you don’t upgrade, and your baby needs hospital care following birth, your baby won’t be covered. If you already have a couple, family or sole-parent family membership your baby will be covered if hospital care is needed. Planning ahead enables you to put your mind at ease so you can enjoy a healthy pregnancy and beyond, our team can guide you,’ she explains.
05 The kids are growing
Got kids who might need orthodontic treatment soon? Get the right kind of extras cover to help during this important (and expensive) time. ‘When your kids reach about 12, think about checking or upgrading your extras to make sure they are covered if they need orthodontic treatment,’ says Dr Lincoln Law, dentist at Healthy Teeth. ‘There’s a waiting period of 12 months before you can claim orthodontics if you’re not already covered, so as with everything that’s important in life, plan ahead!’ adds Peta.
06 You’re celebrating a graduation
With rt, your children can be covered by your family or sole-parent family membership until their 21st birthday. After that, they can stay on your membership until they’re 25 if they’re studying full-time at an approved Australian school, college or university, and aren’t married or living in a de facto relationship. If they aren’t studying, you can keep the kids covered under your membership for an additional contribution that’s a fraction of what they’d pay for their own cover. ‘It’s called ‘family extension and it’s available with rt’s Premium Hospital cover,’ Peta explains.
If you join or are with rt health, your kids are eligible to join, and provided they transfer to their own membership with an equivalent level of cover within two months of leaving yours, they’ll have no waiting periods to serve.
07 There’s a significant birthday on the horizon
Celebrating important milestones in the family is one of life’s greatest joys. But with different ages and stages, come different health needs. As you get older, you’re more likely to need certain types of medical treatment for knees, hips, hearts and more.
‘No matter what your life stage, think about whether your health cover is working for you right now. And, will it meet your upcoming needs? We’re committed to providing our existing and new members with the best advice possible and matching them with the right cover for their changing needs!’ ends Peta.
Call us on 1300 56 46 46 to join rt health and get the rt health check your health deserves!
Did you know that almost three-quarters of Australians without private hospital insurance don’t know that they could be slapped with a 10-year Lifetime Health Cover loading*? The statistics are even higher for young Australians (18-31) without private hospital insurance – a massive 80% are unaware of LHC*. Thankfully LHC can be avoided or minimised so read on to find out how!
What you need to know …
Lifetime Health Cover is a government initiative that’s designed to encourage Australians to take out private hospital cover early in life and to keep it. If you don’t have private hospital insurance before 1 July following your 31st birthday, the LHC meter starts running. And, from that point on, hospital cover will cost you an additional 2 per cent on top of the usual price every year you delay, up to a maximum loading of 70 per cent! And, the loading stays with you until you have paid it for ten continuous years.
Not yet 31?
If you take out hospital cover by the time you are 31 (and keep it) you’ll pay the lowest rate offered by the health fund you join. And, you’ll have the peace of mind that comes with knowing that if the unexpected happens, you have choice, security and control.
Already over 31?
The longer you delay, the more you’ll pay. This can mean that hospital cover ends up costing you thousands of dollars more than you needed to pay. So, for example, if you were to put off taking out hospital cover until you were 40, you’d be paying 20% more than someone who took out the same hospital cover at age 30. This loading could add up to thousands of dollars over a ten-year period! The bottom line is that if you want to avoid getting tripped up by the LHC loading, you have to take out hospital cover sooner rather than later (and keep it)!
Dropped your private hospital cover?
If you’re over 31 and have held private hospital cover without an LHC loading but you’ve let your cover lapse, you may be subject to a loading when you choose to re-join a health fund later on. Our team can explain the details and why getting hospital cover and sticking with it is so worthwhile.
New to Australia?
If you’re a new Australian and you hold either a green or blue Medicare card, the LHC loading can be avoided by taking out private hospital cover by 1 July following your 31st birthday. Over 31? Take out hospital cover before the first anniversary of the day you registered for full Medicare benefits. Otherwise, you’ll be charged a 2% loading for every year you are over 31!
If you want to avoid the LHC loading or minimise it – talk to us today! We can explain the details to you in plain English and you won’t be rushed off the phone. Give our team of experts a call on 1300 56 46 46.
Disclaimer: This information is brought to you by rt health fund – the health fund for transport and energy industry people. You are welcome to reproduce this article with mention of rt health fund as the source. With all tax-related issues, we strongly recommend you speak with your accountant, financial planner or tax adviser. The information provided here is intended to be for information only and should be carefully evaluated for its source, accuracy, completeness and relevance for your purposes.
Since you’re young, health insurance probably isn’t on your radar. And, although it’s true that chronic (long-term) conditions such as diabetes are more likely to affect older people, did you know that more young people are admitted to hospital for accidents and injuries than people at any other life stage? Health insurance really can protect your health …
More young people are admitted to hospital for accidents and injuries than people at any other life stage.
Your health, your way
It’s natural to want to make your own decisions about your life, your way. And, health cover can do this by giving you the peace of mind that comes with knowing that if the unexpected happens, you have choice, security and control.
First Start Hospital cover has been developed as a great start to health insurance by providing cover for the kinds of things young people are more likely to need. And, it doesn’t cost as much as you might think. For around only $16.22* a week, about the same as four coffees or a weekly membership at your gym, you could be covered if something were to happen to you.
Need convincing? Here’s how health insurance can protect your health!
Last Friday night …
Hands up who’s familiar with this scenario?
‘My cousin was walking down some nightclub stairs late one night wearing super-high stilettos. She tripped, fell and tore the ligaments in her leg and ended up needing surgery and physiotherapy for months after.’
Need help paying for those extra services?
Young people are the highest users of services covered under extras (ancillary) cover such as dental, optical, physio and chiro.
But apart from a very small number of services, there’s no Medicare coverage for these things. So, if you’d like some assistance with these types of health care costs, private health insurance is the only way to go.
Dancing into trouble
This young dancer trains four to five times a week. And the workouts are pretty intensive.
‘Even though I haven’t had an injury, I do have to see my physio regularly. Plus, I need to have remedial massages to ensure that I take care of my body. If I didn’t have health cover I might put it off – which wouldn’t do my health much good.
I love that I can use HICAPS for on-the-spot claiming – I never thought about health insurance before joining rt health fund, which is when I started paying attention to what I could claim. And extras by itself isn’t that expensive. You never know what you might actually need!’
The trouble with teeth
‘My friends and I were mucking around on a jet ski when my mate went head-over-heels and chipped both his front teeth. He had to walk around with broken front teeth for weeks while he scraped together the money to get them fixed.’
With extras cover from as little as $4.80 a week**, why wouldn’t you get covered?
Mix, match ‘n’ save!
One of the easiest ways to save money on your health insurance is to mix and match your hospital and extras cover based on your individual needs.
rt health fund offers a range of covers. First Start Hospital and Value Extras are a great choice for young people who are taking out health cover for the first time and who don’t have any specific health issues or concerns.
Give our team a call on 1300 56 46 46 to talk through your options, the costs and how it all works or join online here.
*Prices are indicative, based on a single, NSW-based membership, receiving a 26.791% rebate with no Lifetime Health Cover loading and $500 excess.
**Prices are indicative, based on a single, NSW-based membership on Value Extras cover, receiving a 26.791% rebate.
One in five young people don’t know that they could be heading for a 10-year government penalty!
Are you that one in five? Or do you know someone that may be in this boat?
Thankfully, this cost can be avoided …
So what’s it all about?
It’s all due to a system called Lifetime Health Cover (LHC) – a government loading that hits anyone over the age of 31 with a penalty for not having private hospital cover before the cut-off date (which is June 30 after a person’s 31st birthday). The loading increases annually, potentially adding up to thousands of extra dollars paid for private hospital cover. The government introduced LHC to encourage people to take out private hospital cover early in life, and keep it …
And that’s just the start of it!
By not taking out hospital cover by the cut off date, the loading increases a further 2 per cent for every year over 31 that a person doesn’t have private hospital cover. Scarily, more than one million Australians are paying a LHC loading today.
LHC can add up and up and up
‘Hospital insurance isn’t on the radar – or in the budget – of a lot of younger people. If they do think about it, they think they can wait until they’re ready to start a family or until they’re older and more likely to want private cover. But what many people don’t realise is that by then, the LHC loading has really added up,’ says rt health fund Chief Operating Officer, Simone Tregeagle.
‘If you leave it until you’re 40, you’ll be paying 20 per cent more for your health cover every year for 10 years until the loading drops off. And that easily adds up to thousands of dollars over a ten-year period!’
Read all about it!
Each year the government writes to everyone turning 31 who doesn’t have hospital cover to tell them about the looming LHC loading. But the statistics show that awareness of LHC is pretty low. And it’s not just the thirty-somethings that are affected.
A lapse of judgment could cost you dear!
Simone Tregeagle adds, ‘There’s a fairly low level of awareness among older people who have private hospital cover that if they let their cover lapse for a period of time, they may face a substantial LHC loading when they choose to re-join. So getting hospital cover and staying with it really is worthwhile.’
The government also wants people who have recently moved to Australia to take up hospital cover. So, if you – or someone you know – receives full Medicare benefits (i.e. holds either a green or blue Medicare card), LHC loading can be avoided by taking out private hospital cover. This needs to be taken out by 1 July following the person’s 31st birthday. If the person is over 31, hospital cover needs to be taken out before the first anniversary of the day they registered for full Medicare benefits in order to avoid the loading.
‘If full Medicare eligibility is kept for a year without taking out private hospital cover, the government will charge a 2 per cent loading for every year that person is over 31. Scarily, if that person is 45 years of age and hasn’t taken out private hospital cover one year after Medicare eligibility kicks in, the loading would be a huge 30 per cent!’ explains rt’s Simone Tregeagle.
So what can you do to avoid being slapped?
Read, read, read …
Read the information that’s sent to you by the government
Get hospital cover by June 30 following your 31st birthday
If you’re older than 31, get hospital cover as soon as you can to reduce your LHC loading
Be aware of the consequences if you have hospital cover and choose to drop it after the age of 31
If you’re new to Australia, or know someone who is, and they’re 31 or older, give them a heads up and get them to take out health cover to save excess payments
Call us – our team can explain the details in plain English. And you can relax and speak for as long as you need – you won’t be hurried off the phone. Rest assure that you can take as long as you need to make the right decisions for you.
Think about health insurance and you probably won’t think about young people. After all, being young means being fit, healthy and active, doesn’t it? In my experience working with rt health fund, I’ve seen first-hand how living life to the fullest – whether it be through sports, travels and/or celebratory nights out – means that having health insurance should be high on a young person’s agenda!
People under 30 are much more likely to make a claim for unplanned medical treatment than older people. And, the kinds of accidents and injuries that go hand-in-hand with an active lifestyle can clock up huge bills.
Don’t pay extra tax
Did you know that private health insurance can actually save you money? By having private hospital cover you may be able to avoid a tax called the Medicare Levy Surcharge, which applies to Australian residents who earn over a certain amount and don’t have hospital cover. The extra you’re charged increases as your income rises.
So, for example, for the Financial Year 14/15, if you’re a single person earning $95,000, you’ll be taxed an extra $950 in Medicare Levy Surcharge. A base-level private hospital cover with rt health fund can cost less than this – so by taking out a low level of cover you may avoid the surcharge, receive the benefits of having private hospital cover and be able to choose where and when you’re treated – and who treats you, too!
Income brackets change annually so keep an eye on which income tier you fall under by visiting www.ato.gov.au.
Don’t delay or you’ll pay, and pay, and pay …
For every year you’re over 31 and don’t have private hospital cover, the government charges you a 2% loading on top of the ‘base rate’ that the health fund charges. And over the years this loading can creep up to a whopping 70%! Once you’re stuck with a loading, it’ll be yours until you’ve paid for hospital cover with a loading for ten whole years!
Get a rebate from the government
Because the government really wants you to take out private health cover, they’ll pay part of the cost of your health cover for you. It’s called the Australian Government Rebate on Private Health Insurance. You may be entitled to it if you’re an Australian resident who qualifies for Medicare and holds private health insurance.
Give yourself choices
The public health system in Australia is exceptional. There’s no doubting that. But where unexpected injury is concerned and specialist care is required, having health insurance is important if you want a say about where and when you’ll be treated and who’ll be treating you.
And this is especially important for young people who enjoy the freedom of making their own choices and taking their own direction in life. Accidents without the protection of private health insurance can see those choices disappear.
Recently, we spoke with a number of young people who shared their stories about unexpected accidents and injuries. In these cases, all of them were covered by private health insurance. And it’s a good thing too…
Ouch – you can still see the scar!
‘Playing cricket as a 22 year old, a short ball hit me on the side of my left index finger when I was batting. I heard a cracking
noise (I guess it could have been avoided if I’d used my cricket bat instead haha!). A few days later, I still wasn’t able to move my finger so the GP sent me for an x-ray.
Turns out I had fractured my third metacarpal and needed a CT scan, surgery and about three months of physiotherapy.
Because I had health insurance, I could get into a hospital for surgery within a week.
And, around 70% of the physiotherapy costs were covered.
I’m really glad that I had private health insurance – there was no stress working out if I could afford the surgery or if I’d have to wait for the public system to schedule me in … and there were no hidden expenses to pay, either!’ Clinton
Imagine getting caught out with broken teeth. ‘My friends and I were mucking around on a jet ski when my mate went head-over-heels and chipped both his front teeth. He had to walk around with broken front teeth for weeks while he scraped together the money to get them fixed!’ That is definitely not something to smile about!
No injuries – still need treatment…
‘As a young dancer in my twenties, I train four to five times per week and the workouts are pretty high intensity. And even though I haven’t had an injury, I do have to see my physio regularly. Plus, I need to have sports massages to ensure that I take care of my body.
If I didn’t have health cover I might put it off – which wouldn’t do my health much good. I use the physio and massage therapy under my Extras cover and I love that I can use HICAPS for on-the-spot processing – I was out-of-pocket just $10 for my last massage!
I never thought about health insurance before joining rt health fund, which is when I started paying attention to what I could claim. And Extras Cover by itself isn’t that expensive. I have spoken about my experiences with my sister who has a little boy and she’s thinking of joining, too! You never know what you might actually need!’ Joanne
The belle of the ball
This story is all too common… ‘My cousin was walking down the stairs of a nightclub late one night, wearing super-high stilettos, and she tripped and fell. She tore the ligaments in her leg and ended up needing surgery and physio for months after.’ It just goes to show that accidents can happen anywhere, at any time.
Thank goodness I was covered!
‘I love being active and when I was competing in sport acrobatics, I landed badly dislocating my knee. I was taken to Emergency, my knee was x-rayed and I was sent home. Three months later though, I still had knee issues.
I was sent to a specialist and had an MRI; I was told that I had a ruptured ACL (anterior cruciate ligament).
Because I was covered with private health insurance, I was in surgery within a few weeks with my choice of doctor and at my local private hospital! And, I was only a few hundred dollars out of pocket. Without health insurance, I might have had to wait months for surgery.
My brother and I have had quite a few other injuries and rt have been with us all the way!’ Megan
We’ve served Australians and their families for over 125 years and we know that one size definitely does not fit all. We offer a range of different covers which mean that young people have a choice and can enjoy the kind of lifestyle services they want – like massages, dental, optical and physiotherapy – and less of the services they don’t need.
I’m proud to say that we’re the most trusted health fund in Australia[i]. So talk with our friendly consultants about our range of great value covers today! Call 1300 56 46 46 or email email@example.com.
Help us help you complement a healthy active lifestyle so you can live your life, your way!
[i] Ipsos, Healthcare and Insurance in Australia 2013
Australia’s new mutual health fund alliance has today announced itself to the nation with the news that we offer a genuine alternative when it comes to health insurance.
‘We’ve been one of this country’s best kept secrets for too long,’ says rt health fund CEO Matthew Moore, ‘but now mutual health funds are able to bring their message to a wider audience than ever before’.
More than 2.5 million Australians are already covered by one of the 15 participating funds in the new Members Own Health Funds alliance representing Australia’s mutual health funds, and there are millions more who will be delighted to know that there are funds like ours that exist to serve them, not to profit from them, when it comes to their health cover.
With their big budgets it’s easy for some funds to monopolise the message, we’re excited that together Members Own Health Funds will be able to spread the word that Australians have a choice when it comes to investing in their most important asset – their health.
The message is clear – Members Own Health Funds:
Are run to benefit members, not shareholders.
On average, give more back to members.
On average, offer a better, more personalised service to members.
And we’re even more excited to tell you that we’re top of the pile when it comes to member service and satisfaction!
That’s right! The most extensive research into Australia’s health fund industry[i] found that members of rt health fund are the happiest with their fund – nationwide!
In a nutshell, the large-scale evaluation of health funds in Australia found that even the giants of the industry couldn’t compete with us. Members of rt health fund reported:
The highest levels of satisfaction, trust and loyalty.
That they are more likely to recommend friends, family and workmates to join rt health fund compared with members of other funds.
Our member service as being the best in the entire health fund industry.
That they are the least likely of any health fund members to be considering switching funds.
That they are more likely to accept the advice of their fund compared with members of other funds.
Strongly associating the fund with value for money, better claim rebates and making private health insurance easy to understand.
Enjoying all the benefits of excellent value private health insurance, while knowing that they are part of a community that shares ownership of the health fund they belong to.
Formed by rail transport workers over 125 years ago, rt health fund is today just as committed to providing value health cover and exceptional service to members of the transport and energy industries.
‘This year, many of our large-fund counterparts may be asking themselves, who is rt health fund? We’re proud to introduce ourselves as Australia’s first registered health fund – and we’re honoured to be a part of the ‘Members Own Health Funds’ alliance and to share the news that our member services are the best in the business! Call us to see why!’ ends Matthew Moore.
[i] IPSOS, ‘Healthcare and insurance in Australia’, 2013
As Australia celebrates its 227th year as a nation, I’d love to reflect on our shared history spanning 126 years! So sit back with a cuppa, relax and enjoy all things Australian!
1889 – rt health fund was established
In 1889, alongside the completion of the railway network between Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney, rt health fund was born!
1901 – Australia the nation
On 1 January 1901, Australia’s six colonies became the Commonwealth of Australia and later that year, the Australian Flag was raised for the first time in Melbourne.
At this point, rt health fund had already been around for over 10 years and around 75 per cent of the employees in the Great Railway and Tramway Service were fund members. Female employees also became eligible to join.
1914-1918 – World War I
Australia was an important part of the fight for freedom and by 1st November 1915, up to 3,000 railway and tramway employees had enlisted for active service[i].
1919 – The Spanish flu
By the time the war was over 60,000 Australians lost their lives and in 1918, the remaining troops started returning home. The Spanish Flu also arrived on our shores and health authorities appealed to the Railway Commissioners asking for masks to be manufactured at the Randwick Tramway Workshops. Within three days of the appeal, 41,000 masks were manufactured at Randwick and 21,000 at the Eveleigh Railway Workshops.
1920s – rebuilding Australia
Construction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge began, Qantas was founded, and that other Aussie icon, Vegemite, came on the scene. The first woman, Edith Cowan, was elected to parliament.
During the 20s, health was a major focus and in 1921, the Commonwealth Department of Health was founded. Eight years later, the Public Hospital Act was passed – arguably the most significant piece of legislation affecting public hospitals in NSW history.
1930s – The Great Depression
The Wall Street Crash of October 1929 marked the start of the Great Depression, and a quarter of the Australian work force was unemployed by 1931[ii]. During this time the fund held fundraising carnivals in Petersham Park.
1939-1945 – World War II
Australia once again prepared troops for deployment to fight with the allies.
Around this time (1941), 40 per cent of Railways and Road Transport and Tramways employees were members of the fund[iii].
1950s – post-war growth
In the 1950s, employment rates were high and Australia was prospering. Barry Humphries introduced the much loved, Dame Edna to the Australian stage and television was broadcasted for the first time in Australia.
For rt health fund, the 1950s saw electrical workers formally incorporated into the fund membership rules – around 2,500 railway employees in jobs associated with electricity generation were transferred to the new Electricity Commission.
In 1953, the National Health Act and the Commonwealth Medicare Benefits Scheme was established, changing the health insurance landscape.
1960s – Administrative changes
The swinging 60s saw social walls surrounding racism and sexism starting to crumble; there were large-scale protests about the Vietnam War, equal opportunities, fair wages and fights for indigenous rights. The Commonwealth Electoral Act was amended to give all Indigenous Australians the right to enrol and vote at federal elections. The Beatles World Tour came to Australia. Plus, Prime Minister Harold Holt disappeared while swimming at a beach.
Legal changes at this time meant that the fund had to be registered as a Friendly Society. In 1963, we also changed our name to the NSW Railway and Transport Employees’ Hospital Fund (tramways had been replaced by buses in Sydney).
1970s – The health insurance landscape
Marked by iconic fashion trends, discos, hippies and big hair, the 70s was also a time of great political and social growth in Australia. In 1972, after 23 years of Liberal Government, Gough Whitlam’s Labor Government was voted in and many social reforms followed.
One of the key health proposals was the introduction of a National Health Scheme to be financed by a compulsory income levy – the precursor to the modern-day Medicare scheme[iv].
At the 1978 annual general meeting, the fund’s President played an active role in forming an association of closed hospital funds – the Health Insurance Restricted Membership Association of Australia or HIRMAA which continues to be an active forum for all restricted membership health funds.
1980s – the impact of Medicare
In 1983, after hospital charges increased by 60 per cent, rt health fund was required to install its first computer system for rapid identification of claims.
It was a time of retro fashion, pop music and the new national anthem, Advance Australia Fair. In the same year, 1984, Medicare was established[v]. Four years later, we celebrated our bicentenary and the opening of Parliament House in Canberra.
In 1989 rt health fund celebrated its 100th anniversary with the issue of a centenary medallion plus celebrations at the Railway Institute. Later, in the year, the fund launched extra’s cover to pay benefits for services not covered by Medicare.
The 90s wasn’t all butterfly clips, double denim, and bleached hair – we welcomed Queenslanders into our membership and celebrated the opening of our new office in Brisbane. By 1994, Queensland members represented 12.95 per cent of total membership.
2000 and beyond
Australia celebrated in the year 2000 with the Sydney Olympic Games. In 2008 we welcomed the first female Governor General, Quentin Bryce and in 2010 Liberal, Ken Wyatt became the first Indigenous Australian to be elected into the House of Representatives[vi].
Over the last decade or so rt health fund has celebrated many occasions. We opened our new Brisbane office in 2000, launched the rt Families Foundation (a registered charity run by rt staff) in 2006, and also rebranded and adopted the name ‘rt health fund’. Our new tagline “be well. get well. stay well.” showed our focused commitment to taking an active role in helping people take care of their health. In 2009, rt health fund was named one of the best value health funds by the Smart Investor magazine.
Four years ago we relocated our headquarters to our current premises in Surry Hills. And in 2013, global research company, IPSOS found that members of rt health fund are most likely to recommend, least likely to be considering switching funds, are happier members and strongly associate rt with value for money, better claim rebates and making private health insurance easy to understand. In fact, rt health fund scored the highest in the health insurance industry for member service[vii]. These were incredible results and we’re so honoured to be recognised by our members!
During 2013 and 2014 our first dental and optical clinics – rt healthy eyes and rt healthy teeth clinics in Surry Hills and rt healthy eyes in Charlestown opened. They are designed to serve and give quality care to our members along with the wider community. Last year saw a change in our membership eligibility, which means that all employees within the energy industry can now join us, too!
Looking back leading up to Australia Day, we are grateful for our long history that has been interwoven with Australia’s history at large. I am looking forward to 2015 and all that it will hold and I and the people that make rt health fund are excited that you’ll be with us on the journey for the next 125 years and beyond!
With all the changes that have happened since 1889 and continue to happen, we are more committed than ever to helping our members in every way and building a healthier Australia.
[i] N.S.W. Railway & Transport Employees Hospital Fund. 100 reflections of 100 years 1889-1989.
[ii] N.S.W. Railway & Transport Employees Hospital Fund. 100 reflections of 100 years 1889-1989.
[iii] N.S.W. Railway & Transport Employees Hospital Fund. 100 reflections of 100 years 1889-1989.
According to Nutrition Australia, Aussies will pack on between 0.8-1.5kg over the festive season[i]. It doesn’t sound like much. But the problem is that most of us don’t shift the extra kilos during the year. When you add it all up over the years it’s no wonder Australia has a major weight problem! What with all the festive buffets and bring-a-plate get-togethers, there are plenty of chances to eat and enjoy – perhaps a little too much! So, here are seven ways that you can do both without ending up with a weight hangover when the new year arrives.
Don’t skip brekkie.
A healthy breakfast provides long-lasting energy and helps to prevent you becoming so hungry that you overindulge at your festive feast. Protein and healthy fat keeps you fuller for longer, so try some peanut butter with wholegrain bread, eggs with tomato and sourdough, or yoghurt with sweet seasonal fruit.
Expect some stress
You might find that the season of good cheer isn’t always that cheerful. In fact, it can be a pretty stressful time of year, and studies show that your emotional state guides your food choices. So, when people are in a good mood, they make healthier choices while more indulgent foods are more likely to be on the menu if you’re feeling down or stressed. There are lots of things that can help you de-stress, but one size doesn’t fit all. Try exercising (strenuous exercise like fast walking or running and mind-body exercise like yoga and tai chi), eating well and deep breathing. Try to plan ahead and be realistic – stick to a Christmas budget, avoid family conflicts, make time for yourself and create to-do lists.
Choose your mates wisely
Your eating buddies are strong influences and lots of research shows that you tend to mimic the eating and drinking habits of the people you’re with. So, if you want to make healthier choices, stick with people who have healthier attitudes to food and drinks.
Expect to fall off the wagon
With so much food and drink around, you’re bound to overindulge. The trick is to make up for it. So, if you know you’re heading for a family blowout, cut back a little at lunch and do some extra exercise to burn it off. Try to opt for 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise every day . Even if you can’t manage half an hour in one go, opt for three ten-minute mini workouts. Great for your body – and helps to beat stress, too! Don’t forget to check with your GP if you haven’t exercised for a while or if you have a medical condition.
Watch your drinks
Your body was made to expect zero calorie water to quench thirst – not juices, sugary drinks and boozy beverages. So, it can’t clock up the calories in drinks as well as it can when you eat solid foods. A standard drink = 10g alcohol, which is equivalent to: 100ml wine, 30ml spirits or 250ml of beer. But restaurants can serve wine in glasses that are two or three times the standard serve – and when you lose count of the top-ups, it’s difficult to keep a handle on your drinking. So, finish one glass before accepting a top-up, go for low sugar, low-cal options when you can. And, when you’re choosing coffee, opt for low-fat milk and say no to syrupy add-ons (one medium latte can add up to 300 calories – the same as a jam doughnut!).
Fill up at the buffet – but don’t fill out!
Buffets can be a minefield but they can be your friends, too. Opt for masses of low calorie salad and veggies as a first plate (minus the cheesy/oily dressings) and eat slowly. Soup is also a great starter even though it’s summer. It takes a while for your body to ‘sieve out’ the ingredients in soup so your stomach stays fuller. This helps to take the edge off your appetite so you’re less likely to go overboard when you get your next plate.
Downsize your crockery
According to pioneering food psychologist Dr Brian Wansink, subconscious eating habits lead to unnecessary weight gain. He has shown that people eat more food if the food is served on large plates – even if they don’t like the food they’re eating! Plus, people feel just as satisfied and enjoy food just as much if it is served on a smaller plates. So trick your appetite into satisfaction – go for smaller crockery and slimmer glasses!
Good health is what we’re all about at rt health fund and helping you ‘be well, get well, stay well’ is what we want for you today and in the future. Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a very happy 2015!
Simone Tregeagle Chief Operating Officer at rt health fund
The legislation has finally been formalised – rt health fund is the official industry health insurer for the energy industry! And, our first presence in this capacity came at the recent Energy Skills Queensland event.
For my colleagues and I, it was a privilege for rt to be a major sponsor and the perfect forum to introduce our team and our organisation to the industry. This excellent event provided an in-depth and thought-provoking insight into the industry as it is today, and potentially, how it will be in the future.
Between sessions, delegates representing the energy industry – from electricity supply and generation to sustainable and renewable energy – dropped by to engage with us.
An Australian institution
Despite being a part of the Australian story for over 125 years, few people had heard of rt health fund. It wasn’t a surprise. As a closed and mutual health fund, rt doesn’t have the big advertising and public relations budgets to get our name out there, unlike our giant for-profit contemporaries.
In my experience working with our corporate partners, I believe that part of the successful ongoing appeal of rt health fund is its not-for-profit nature. We’ve been quietly serving the needs of Australians for a long time and our aim is to do it right.
Clearly, we’re doing something well. Some 50,000 Australian transport and electricity industry people already trust their health cover to us.
Preventative health focus
Our introduction to the energy industry at Energy Skills triggered a lot of interest – the corporate packs, brochures, giveaways and flyers were flying off the shelves!
While our official association with the energy industry is only recent, we’re already aligned with a number of energy-based organisations.
For example, we’ve been proud to have work with Energy Super and Energy Australia, partnering with them to provide health information programs.
Our ethical and always-listening-to-what-you-need attitude is one we’re passionate about and one that strikes a chord with many. Personalised service is what we believe in and we deliver it via a unique relationship manager – whether we’re working with a small business, a company, a professional body, a union, an industry super fund or a membership association. It’s our business to help facilitate, plan launch and raise awareness of your individualised health plan. Our aim? To bring day-to-day wellbeing into your workplace. Not just on the first day, but for the long haul!
We’re the most trusted health insurer in Australia!
There’s no doubt, partnering with any organisation takes a leap of faith. But we get it right, and here’s the proof… The most extensive study of health insurance in Australia found that rt health fund members are more likely to recommend us than members of any other health fund. It showed that our members value our straightforward approach to health insurance and the genuine service they receive. The study also proved that our members take the opportunity to tell their friends, family and workmates about us.
But back to the uplifting event that was Energy Skills Queensland. I look forward to following up with the many professionals who expressed an interest in rt health fund and thank our VIP guests for accompanying us. Finally, I thank Energy Skills Queensland for providing such a fantastic line up of incredibly insightful speakers.
Energy industry, rt health fund is looking forward to working with you. Energy industry, I’m looking forward to getting to know you!
The not-for-profit health fund for the transport and energy industries.