Managing Finances

Managing Finances

Who pays for palliative care?

It is important to find out as soon as possible who pays for what and where to find help with palliative care costs. Most costs are normally covered by Medicare. Private health insurance may also be an option. However, this may not always be the case. You can ask your doctor and health care team.

Sometimes there will be other costs and considerations depending on where care is provided:

  • There may be costs attached to services being provided in your home or in the community. 
  • There may be limits to length of stay in hospital or hospice. This may depend on the health insurance policy and the hospital. If you are not sure about what is covered, talk to your health care provider.
  • Your illness may affect your ability to continue working. This may mean changes to household income. Your role in the family finances may change.
  • Your private health fund may include cover for home nursing. This may be part of your hospital cover. This means that you can be treated by a nursing service as a private patient.
  • Domiciliary Care and Home Care groups can sometimes provide equipment. They may also provide care support in the home, and fees may apply. If equipment is not available, they can recommend private hire agencies at reasonable rates. Some health funds may also cover some of this cost.
  • If you need an ambulance, it will cost money in some states, but not in others. Don’t be afraid to ask about the cost of these services. It is better to know in advance than receive an unexpected bill. Ambulance cover is available in some states and may be an option.

Carer payments

Your carer may be eligible for a Carer Payment. This is provided to someone who is caring full time and unable to work or seek employment.

Carer Allowance may be an option. This is provided when a person is providing full time care to someone with a severe medical condition.

Eligibility for both payments needs an assessment by a doctor or a nurse. Social workers can help with this. More information on government payments is available from Centrelink.

Getting help and advice

You may sometimes have financial problems. If so, you need to get help and advice early. The following may help:

  • It is important to get advice from a licenced financial advisor
  • Banks, credit unions and building Societies have financial planners
  • Many unions have advisors. They may be able to help with superannuation or personal leave entitlements
  • Superannuation funds provide access to advice
  • Personal accountants can be an important source of advice
  • A social worker can also provide advice. They are at hospitals, palliative care services or community health services.

It is important that you and your partner both have access to bank accounts. This helps to ensure financial security for you both. Consider obtaining legal advice. You might wish to have an Enduring Power of Attorney. This means you can appoint someone to make financial decisions for you. They can use your bank accounts and pay your bills. They can also sell or buy property or shares on your behalf.

Various resources and organisations provide practical help and advice to help with finances during and after an illness. Here we list some of them.

Information can be obtained through the Centrelink website or by phoning 13 27 17. Services Australia also has financial information services. They offer a confidential interview.

  • A Sickness Allowance is paid on a 'temporary' basis to people who are employed and who are temporarily unable to work due to a medical condition
  • A Disability Support Pension is available for those who are 'assessed as not being able to work 15 hours or more per week in the next 2 years or be retrained for such work within 2 years because of illness, injury, or disability'
  • A Pharmaceutical Allowance may be paid when a person receives a range of government pensions
  • A Health Care Card enables health and medical services to be offered at reduced rates
  • A Pensioner Concession Card is available for persons receiving a range of government pensions. It enables reduced fares for bus and rail transport, motor vehicle registration, telephone and local council rates.

Trustworthy places to find financial information for carers include:

Information on state or territory ambulance services can be found on the following websites (Ambulance cover is also available through private health insurance):

There may be a taxi transport subsidy scheme in your state. Carergateway has a list of Transport and Travel options.

The Moneysmart website has a page on coping financially after losing your partner.

If you are seriously ill you may need to think about your finances. Employment and retirement packages can be hard to understand. You may still be working. The Human Resources staff at your work can provide information about work entitlements. If you are still employed, financial advice can help you to make important decisions:

  • Banks have financial advisors that may be able to offer advice
  • Personal accountants can be an important source of advice
  • Many Centrelink offices can help. They have financial information services, and offer a confidential interview
  • Some policies allow a claim to be made if you are seriously ill. Sometimes a medical assessment is required. A doctor or social worker can help with filling in these forms.

You need to decide what happens to your property after your death. This can include money, vehicles, property or shares. It could include insurance policies, personal effects and so on. This means that you need to make a Will. Without a Will a court may need to decide who benefits.

It is important not to leave making your Will too late. Your health may deteriorate rapidly or unexpectedly. In order to make a Will you need to have sound mind, memory and understanding. In the last stages of an illness this can sometimes fluctuate and this means that you have to act early.

Let family and friends (or a designated person) know where your Will is. If it cannot be found it has no value.

Page updated 12 November 2021