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Health insurance for empty-nesters

Have your kids recently flown the nest? Find out what this means for your health insurance.

Once your children have grown into adults and left home to pursue their dreams and ambitions, it’s time to start putting yourself first in all aspects of your life, and that includes health insurance. With no more need to maintain a family policy, now's the perfect time to reassess your cover and work out whether your health insurance is still right for you.

Compare the policies offered by Australian health funds

Details Features
High 65 / 75 / 85% - $0/$250/$500 Excess
High 65 / 75 / 85% - $0/$250/$500 Excess
Combines High Hospital Cover with its highest level of extras cover.
  • Cover starting from $44.74 weekly
  • 12 month waiting period for pregnancy
  • 65% back on extras
  • Choice of $0, $250 and $500 excess
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Deluxe flexi
Deluxe flexi
Deluxe flexi provides cover for a range of treatments including hip replacement, spinal fusion, dialysis and major eye surgery.
  • No excess for kids
  • All joint replacements
  • Major eye surgery
  • Rehabilitation
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Smart Combination
Smart Combination
Smart combination provides a high level of cover for both hospital and extras.
  • Claim up to $2725 back on extras
  • Hip and knee replacements
  • General and major dental
  • Physio
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Combined cover designed to suit young people who want value money health insurance, but don’t want to pay for services that they may not use. Restricted fund: Only current and former members of an education union and their families can join.
  • Cover for 5 key services in a private hospital
  • Access Gap Cover
  • $500 general dental annual limit
  • $150 Healthy Lifestyle annual limit
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Highest level of combined cover offered by CBHS. Includes the same benefits as Comprehensive Hospital and Top Extras plus more. Restricted fund: Only current or former staff (and their families) of Commonwealth Bank Group and their subsidiaries which include Aussie, Bankwest, Colonial First State and more can join.
  • No excess or co-payments on hospital cover
  • Non-student dependent under 25 can be kept on policy
  • Access to Chronic Disease Management Programs
  • Widest range of extras including orthodontics
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Bronze Hospital (no pregnancy) and Bronze Extras Set Benefits
Bronze Hospital (no pregnancy) and Bronze Extras Set Benefits
High level of hospital cover and extras cover for a range of popular services including knee and should reconstructions.
  • Most comprehensive hospital options
  • Cover for general and major dental
  • Shared or single room in a private hospital
  • Intensive and coronary care
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Premium Hospital and Silver Extras Cover
Premium Hospital and Silver Extras Cover
Comprehensive hospital cover including pregnancy cover. Also included affordable mid-level extras cover for dental, optical and therapies.
  • Cover from $39.50 per week
  • Pregnancy and birth-related services cover
  • Heart surgery cover
  • 100% cash back on two dental check per year
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Top Hospital with Top Extras
Top Hospital with Top Extras
Get comprehensive hospital and extras cover and tailor your policy to your needs.
  • Pregnancy and birth services cover
  • Back surgery cover
  • $1000 general dental annual limit
  • $600 physiotherapy annual limit
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Young Couples Combined Cover
Young Couples Combined Cover
Mid-level hospital and basic level Extras package with an excess for young, healthy couples that are not quite ready to start a family.
  • Emergency ambulance cover
  • Cancer-related surgery cover
  • 70% back on extras
  • $300 dental annual limit per person
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How do my health insurance needs change once my kids leave home?

After spending the last 20 or so years looking after all of your children's needs, they are now financially independent and can look after themselves. With this in mind, it’s important to realise that your health insurance priorities have now shifted, with previously essential benefits, such as gap-free dental services for kids and affordable cover for the whole family, no longer being necessary. Instead, you need to reassess your lifestyle and health requirements to determine the type of cover you need. Not only will you want to ensure that you have sufficient financial protection for the increased health risks you face as you age, but you’ll also want extras cover that satisfies your unique everyday health needs.

Can I choose to keep my kids on my policy after they turn 18?

You may find yourself in a situation where you want to keep providing health insurance cover for your kids, such as if they’re full-time students and still financially dependent on you. If this is the case, it is possible to keep your kids on your family policy until they turn 25, at which time they must go out and get their own cover.

What medical services can I drop from my cover?

Now that the kids have left home and you’ve reached a certain age, there are certain medical services and treatments you probably will no longer need on your hospital or extras policies, such as:

  • Extras cover
    • Orthodontics
    • Any benefit you're unlikely to use such as alternate therapies
Of course, the services and treatments you choose to add or remove will vary depending on your personal circumstances, so consider your health insurance needs before adding or dropping anything from your current policy.

What sort of medical services should I consider adding?

At the same time, you should think about including some cover options that may become necessary as you get older. Some of these include:

  • Hospital cover
    • Heart disease
    • Eye surgery
    • Joint investigations
    • Joint reconstruction
    • Stroke treatments
    • Prostheses
    • Non-cosmetic eye surgery
  • Extras cover
    • Major dental
    • Optical
    • Hearing aids
    • Dialysis
    • Physiotherapy
    • Pharmacy
    • Home nursing
As mentioned above, your health needs will differ from other people's, and some of these suggestions won't apply to you. Always tailor your health insurance cover around your specific health requirements.

Will I get penalised for switching health funds or upgrading my existing policy?

One important issue to consider when switching health funds or adding extra features to your policy is that waiting periods may apply. However, there are several factors that determine the length of waiting time, or whether you have to serve any at all.

  • If you are switching to an equivalent or lower level of cover with another health fund, you shouldn’t have to worry about serving any waiting periods.
  • If you are switching to a new health fund and taking out a higher level of cover, you will have to serve additional waiting periods.
  • If you are adding extra benefits to your existing insurance, or upgrading your level of cover while staying with the same health fund, it will depend on the health fund's policy guidelines. While some funds will require you to serve all the waiting periods that apply, other funds will only impose waiting periods on the additional cover you include in your policy.

It's always important to read the fine print before switching or upgrading so that you know how your cover will be affected. If you are still unsure about the process or can't find the relevant information in your policy statement or member handbook, it's best to contact your health fund directly.

Are there any non-medical benefits to look out for?

Most Australian health funds offer a wide range of health and lifestyle benefits on top of the medical services they cover. This offers added value for members and allows you to enjoy a higher level and broader range of health care services. Most of these are available in extras policies, and can include:

  • Skin cancer screenings
  • Quit smoking programs
  • Yoga and pilates classes
  • Personal training sessions
  • Benefits for gym memberships
  • Health assessments
  • Exercise physiologist appointments
  • Chronic disease management programs
  • Weight loss and weight management programs
  • Discounts on health services such as optical and dental

To retirement and beyond

Just as your health insurance priorities change when the kids leave home, so too do they shift once again when you retire. It’s an unfortunate fact of life that you are exposed to an increasing number of health risks and illnesses as you grow older, so you will need to consider shifting to a policy that covers you for a wider range of medical treatments and services, including:

  • Intensive care
  • Palliative care
  • Organ transplant
  • Major eye surgery
  • Joint replacements
  • Ambulance
  • Hearing aids
  • Physiotherapy
  • X-rays and pathology
  • Cardiothoracic treatment

The good news is that although you may require a more comprehensive, and therefore more expensive, health insurance policy as you age, once you retire you can access increased rebates on the cost of private health insurance from the Australian Government. The health insurance rebate increases as you age, and is targeted specifically for older Australians on lower incomes. This helps make health insurance for empty-nesters and affordable option, and it’s something every Australian should consider as they reach their retirement years.

Compare health insurance for empty-nesters online or with the aid of an adviser

Picture: Shutterstock

Richard Laycock

Richard is the senior insurance writer at finder.com.au and is on a mission to make insurance easier to understand.

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