Millions of Australians missing opportunity to detect disease early by skipping screening tests

2019 -

Majority (86%) of Australians believe that having a preventative screening test to detect disease early is important to their overall health, yet 73% of those admit to not having a test they believe is relevant to them, new research [1] by leading life insurer TAL has shown. 

Of those, 39% attributed their lack of action to simply not knowing what to be tested for, resulting in a worrying number of Australians missing out on the opportunity to detect disease early.

The research further uncovered that despite 94% of Australians visiting their GP at least once a year, many are unaware that screening tests can be taken at their GP, with the majority (87%) stating they would get checked more often if they knew certain preventative screening tests could be taken by their GP on their next visit.

According to Dr Sally Phillips, General Manager of Health Services at TAL, Australians’ inertia when it comes to important preventative screening tests could mean millions of people are placing themselves at increased risk of being impacted by health conditions.

“TAL’s Health Sense Plus program is aimed at tackling that inertia, incentivising and rewarding Australians who engage with and undertake a range of preventative screening tests by providing a 5% discount for two years on their Life, Critical Illness and TPD Insurance premiums, where they fall within an acceptable BMI range and undertake a preventative screening test.”

“We know that Australians are already making visits to the GP each year, and care deeply about their health, but they are failing to get preventative tests due to the confusion around how and where to get them, and which are most relevant for them,” Dr Phillips said.

“We believe strongly in the role preventative health plays in our customers’ overall wellbeing, and this program aims to motivate them to ask their GPs about tests which can improve and maintain their health through early detection of conditions.”

The research found that two thirds (67%) of those sampled said they believe service providers such as life insurers can play a valuable role in encouraging preventative health screening tests through financial discounts.

A worrying example of missed potential for detecting health conditions early lies in Australia’s single leading cause of death, heart disease . Despite the medical recommendation by The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) that Australians above the age of 45 be checked every two years , the research found more than 2 in 5 (41%) people over 45 years old have never had a cardiovascular test. 

“Early diagnosis of a health condition can be extremely effective to overall health and can help reduce the need for expensive treatments by detecting a condition before it reaches an advanced stage,” Dr Phillips said.

For those who have received a screening test, nearly two thirds (62%) of Australians did so because their doctor had recommended it, while a further 31% cited the opportunity to detect health conditions before it is too late.

Visit for more information about TAL’s Health Sense Plus offering including the eligibility criteria. 


[1] The survey was conducted by PureProfile on behalf of TAL in June 2019 with a nationally representative sample of 1006 respondents in Australia aged 18-65+ years old. 

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