Health Insurance Finder™ is a 100% free, Australian-owned comparison service designed to help you find suitable cover for your needs.
Private health insurance helps you cover the cost of hospital treatments as well as some out-of-hospital services, such as benefits for dental. When comparing your health insurance, you can pick hospital, extras cover or a combined policy with both. The treatments you're covered for will vary based on the price you pay.
How much does private health insurance cost?
That depends on the level of cover you have. Most health funds in Australia offer a low, medium and high level of cover for both hospital and extras health insurance. You'll often see these labelled as Gold, Silver, Bronze or Basic.
We've crunched the averages below from over 10 Australian health funds to give you an idea of what you can expect to pay. Prices quoted are based on a single policy in Sydney, earning less than $90,000 with a $500 hospital excess from April 2019.
It can be tricky to compare apples for apples with health insurance. Whether you're switching or looking for the first time, here are a few tips that may help. They may even save you some money.
See how much you're paying. Get a starting point of what you're paying now. If you're on a couples policy, see if you both need to be on the same level of cover or if you'd be better off looking at two singles policies (if one of you is pregnant or planning to be, for example).
Look at your hospital and extras separately. It's easy to just go for a combined package, but by reviewing your hospital separately you can mix and match your level of cover. You can also choose different funds.
Explore all options. There are over 30 health funds in Australia, don't just stick on the same policy as your parents or friends. It's a regulated industry so you can feel safe exploring your options.
See what you're actually paying for. Review your extras limits and make sure you claim them every year. Drop the things you're not using.
Switch and use deals. There are no real downsides to switching fund, you can carry over your waiting periods and save a heap by changing frequently. Use sign-up deals every time you switch.
4 benefits of health insurance
Choose your hospital.
No need to travel miles out of the way. With private health insurance, choose the hospital that suits you best.
Skip waiting lists.
Nobody likes waiting around. Private health insurance allows you to skip the public waiting queue.
Save on tax.
If you're earning more than $90,000, you can actually save money by taking out private health insurance.
Peace of mind.
Rest easy knowing that health insurance has you covered, should anything go wrong.
Not sure if private health insurance is worth it? Here are some key differences between the public and private healthcare system in Australia:
Private health insurance
A public hospital will allocate a doctor for you. You don't get to choose.
You can choose which doctor you see.
You'll likely end up in a shared room in a public hospital.
Insurance gives you access to a private room if there's one available.
Waiting lists for elective treatments can range from a few weeks to a few years.
Private insurance usually involves a shorter wait. For some procedures, you may even be able to pick your date.
Medicare doesn't cover most dental, hearing aids or other out-of-hospital treatments.
Extras can give you cashback on out-of-hospital services such as optical, dental, psychology and hearing aids.
In most cases, Medicare won't pay for your ambulance except in Queensland and Tasmania.
Most health funds include cover for an emergency ambulance, even on Basic policies.
What impacts the cost of health insurance?
Health insurance is community rated which means you don't have to pay more for pre-existing conditions and the price you pay isn't impacted by your age.
However, here are a few things that can impact your quote:
Lifetime Health Cover (LHC) loading. If you haven't taken out private health cover by the time you turn 31, you'll have to pay 2% extra for each year you were uninsured when you do eventually take it out.
Medicare Levy Surcharge (MLS). This is an additional tax penalty ranging from 1–1.5% of your annual income, depending on how much you earn, and is applied every year that you do not have an adequate private health insurance policy.
Your excess or co-payment. When you take out insurance, you can agree to take some responsibility for the health cover costs in return for lower premiums – this is your excess. You only pay it if you go to the hospital. The higher your excess, the lower your premiums will be.
Your location. If you live in a regional area of Australia, your insurance might cost you more due to poorer access to health facilities as well as potential travel and accommodation expenses.
Not an Australian resident? Here's what you need to know.
Without health insurance, you could end up facing huge medical bills should you need the hospital during your stay. The type of cover you need will depend on your visa. However, people from countries that Australia has a Reciprocal Health Care Agreement with can access some treatment from Medicare.
Reciprocal Health Care Agreement countries
Live sign-up deals for health insurance
Claim straight away on extras with 2 and 6 month waits, including general dental & optical.
Offer applies when signing up for both hospital + extras cover.
There are just over 13.5 million Australians with private health insurance. That's over half (54%) of the country's population.
Thanks to the most recent PHI reforms, which have introduced Basic, Bronze, Silver and Gold tier policies, finding cover for a specific service is easier than ever. Every tier is required to provide cover for specific services so you can check out what is included in each and select the one that covers the treatment you require.
Compare your options in our guides designed for specific treatments:
If you cancel your health insurance, you won't be entitled to the services you would have otherwise had access to. This means you would have to pay out of your own pocket for a trip to the hospital.
You often won't have to re-serve waiting periods if you had similar or equivalent cover with another provider. However, if you're upgrading or didn't previously have cover for a service that your new policy includes, you will probably have to serve a waiting period.
The Medicare Levy Surcharge (MLS) is a rebate based on your and your family's income and any dependants. Depending on your income, you may be entitled to a private health insurance offset at tax time or reduced insurance premiums.
Gary Hunter is a writer at Finder, specialising in insurance. He has a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from the University of Glasgow and has previously worked for Real Insurance as a content specialist.
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