In researching the latest news and information about cosmetic surgery, and all things aesthetic, Costhetics also keeps an eye on the financial side of enhancement.

We have two golden rules when it comes to paying for surgery:

One option you may not know about involves your super. It may surprise you to know it may be possible for you to access superannuation funds prior to retirement to cover the cost of certain procedures. You’ll need to apply to the ATO (American Taxation Office) for approval. Once you clear that hurdle, you will still need to contact your super fund to determine whether the money can be released under the terms of that specific fund.

If this sounds like a lot of work, it is but it’s most certainly worth the effort if you have a serious medical condition and don’t have personal savings or can’t qualify for medical financing, your super may save the day. We want to help. Costhetics is going to make it a bit easier for you with an overview of what needs to be done.

A brief caveat: things change, often suddenly, in health care and insurance. Consult the ATO website and your doctor to check for unexpected updates.

5 Health Concerns Where Plastic Surgery May be Approved

“Acute medical conditions” and “cosmetic surgery” often go hand in hand. For example, breast reduction surgery may be considered cosmetic by many, but the physical discomfort associated with overly large breasts can be considered a medical problem. A rhinoplasty may cosmetically improve the shape of a nose, but its ability to correct breathing problems may qualify it to be classified as medical.

Among the most commonly approved surgeries:

  • Abdominoplasty following weight loss
  • Skin reduction surgery after bariatric surgery
  • Corrective rhinoplasty
  • Surgery to relieve chronic pain
  • Breast reduction surgery

4 Reasons the ATO Says Yes to Cosmetic Surgery Claims

When Australians can’t afford a needed treatment, the ATO considers “compassionate” relief if

  • You, your spouse, or a dependent need surgery for an acute medical condition and you cannot afford it
  • The surgery is not readily available through the public system
  • The surgery is available through the public system, but only after a waiting period for which the patient cannot wait
  • The surgery requires treatment at a private hospital and the cost of treatment is beyond the patient’s ability to pay

2 Forms to Document Your Need

Instructions for how to apply can be found on the ATO website. The application is free. Prior to application, the ATO recommends that you “check with your super fund if they allow the early release of super.” If they do not, you can consider moving to another fund that permits it.

When you apply, you will be asked to submit digital copies of:

  • Your surgical quote (provided by your surgeon)
  • An early release form filled out by your doctor

The process is taxing. Super funds released to patients early may be considered part of their taxable income for the year. The rate is age dependent:

  • Under 60 years old – 17-22%
  • Over 60 years old – tax-free

A Costhetics Cautionary Tale or 2

Requests to tap into super funds have been rising dramatically. This has given rise to the creation of ‘early-release super’ companies. They charge hundreds of dollars in fees to complete the application and connect their clients with medical specialists. Consumer groups recommend avoiding these high-priced services and, instead, working with your physician and the ATO directly.

Then there is this warning: “Australians are raiding their superannuation to pay for plastic surgery…and other elective medical procedures, prompting warnings for consumers to think about the long-term consequences of tapping into their retirement savings,” warns ABC News in their story Superannuation Being Raided to Pay for Plastic Surgery, Gastric Banding, and IVF”

Fortunately for Australians, help is here when you need it. Costhetics urges anyone who is sitting on a health problem due to financial reasons to find out more about this life-saving help.

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