You are required to disclose if you are:
1. Applying to join the Australian Defence Force (ADF) or state/territory/federal police forces. The ADF and the police force have very strict medical entry requirements. Members may be sent to remote locations where access to appropriate treatment may not be available, and members may be in active service where the risk of injury is increased. You must provide the ADF or police force medical officer with information about any known health condition so they can make a decision about how relevant it is. If it’s not disclosed and causes a problem you can be discharged from the ADF or police force.
2. Applying for insurance such as Life and Income Protection insurance. The law requires anyone applying for life and disability insurance to disclose all matters that are reasonably known to be relevant to the insurer’s decision about whether to accept the risk. Some insurance companies will ask about pre-existing health conditions or genetic testing. You will need to answer questions honestly. If you do not answer honestly and the cover is granted the company may be entitled to refuse to pay any subsequent claim and void your cover entirely, even if the cause of a claim is unrelated to the matter which was not disclosed. Insurance companies can ask about results of any genetic testing already undertaken but cannot request that you get this done.
If you are refused insurance, or the premiums you are asked to pay appear unreasonably high because of your condition, you can appeal the decision. If you have an insurance claim rejected for any reason you may be able to challenge the decision. If you want to challenge or appeal the decisions, legal advice is recommended.
3. Applying for superannuation. Most default superannuation funds provide contributing members with automatic life and disability insurance under a ‘group’ insurance policy. These benefits can be tens of thousands of dollars and cover is generally granted without having to answer any questions about pre-existing health conditions. Claims caused by pre-existing conditions will usually be covered as long as you have worked normal hours without restriction whilst you were a member of the super fund. It’s important to check your superannuation statements to make sure your contributions are being made and your insurance is maintained so that you remain covered in the event that you cease work due to injury or illness.
Self-managed or private superannuation is different from group superannuation and is often used by people who are self-employed or not in regular employment. You can still get life and disability insurance through these funds but the insurer is likely to ask health questions to which you are required to answer honestly. Some schemes will cover you if you haven’t needed any treatment for a certain length of time.
4. Applying for private health insurance. Even though private health insurers may ask about pre-existing medical conditions they cannot charge a higher premium based on your medical history, including results of genetic tests.
5. Applying for travel insurance. If you are applying for medical and disability cover under travel insurance you may need to fill out a health questionnaire. You will need to complete this honestly or you might not be covered if you try to make a claim. It’s often worth shopping around to see what information is required and what options there are. Some insurers who ask about pre-existing health conditions will allow you to pay a higher premium for travel insurance. If you have an insurance application or a claim rejected because of your pre-existing medical condition you may be able to challenge the insurer under the discriminations laws but that will depend upon whether the insurer can justify its decision.
6. Travelling: At the time of travel you will also need to answer any questions from government officials, such as customs and security officials, about any medication or equipment, but only if asked or you are required to declare it. Airlines and officials may choose not to raise it with you. Read the airline’s fine print about their requirements relating to your medical condition and any medical treatment products and equipment you will be taking with you – this information is usually on their website. Speak to your HTC ahead of time to prepare the necessary documentation and have it in your hand luggage just in case.
7. Applying for, or continuing in a job where your condition is likely to impact on your fundamental ability to carry out the work, or if your condition is an occupational health and safety risk. You do not have to disclose your medical condition to your employer or a prospective employer unless it is a risk to the safety of the workplace or you cannot perform the inherent requirements of a job. Sometimes it’s easier for everyone involved if you don’t volunteer information unless asked. There may be situations at work when you decide it is in your best interest to speak up.
If you’re not sure whether your condition should be disclosed you should speak to your Haemophilia Treatment Centre. However, employers are able to refuse employment if it is considered reasonable to do so based on these concerns. If you don’t mention your bleeding disorder when asked on an application form and an accident occurs, you may not be entitled to legal protection.
However, there are numerous state/territory and federal laws that protect against discrimination in the workplace if you disclose your status and are treated unfairly because of it. Under the Disability Discrimination Act, Anti-discrimination, and Industrial Relations laws employers are required to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to accommodate an employee’s condition, for example, providing you with a work station that reduces the chance of a bleeding injury through repetitive movements or knocks.