Find family health cover tailored to families and save.
Raising a family can be an expensive business and with health insurance costs continually on the rise, it's understandable that some people baulk at the idea of spending money on something that has no immediately tangible benefit.
But having dependants increases your exposure to risk, which is why finding the right health fund for your family is such an Important task.
Compare your options and get a quote online or from an adviser
Are your children dependants on your health insurance?
There are three main stages in the health insurance status of your dependants once they reach adulthood:
- Student dependant. If they are single, between 21 and 25 and studying full time, they are covered by your family policy.
- Adult dependant. If they are single, between 21 and 25 and not studying full time, they may still be able to be covered by your family policy for an additional fee.
- Independent adult. If they are over 25, they are no longer covered by your family policy and will need to take out their own cover. This can often be done without serving an additional waiting period if they take out the same or less cover than yours with the same insurer.
How do finder.com.au partners define dependants?
|Fund||Family health insurance conditions for dependants||More info about fund|
|Peoplecare defines a dependant as a child who is under 21 years of age (or 25 if they’re studying full time) who isn’t married or in a de facto relationship.|
|A child dependant is a child of the member or their partner who is under the age of 21 and who is not married or living in a de facto relationship.|
A student dependant is child of the member or their partner, aged between 21 and 25, not married or living in a de facto relationship, and who is undertaking full-time education. An adult dependant is child of the member or their partner, aged between 21 and 25, not married or living in a de facto relationship, and not a student dependant.
|Australian Unity||Australian Unity defines a dependant as a child aged up to 23 years old who is unmarried. If they remain unmarried and not in a de facto relationship, and if they study full-time at an Australian school, college or university, dependants can be covered up to the age of 25.|
|With GMHBA, child dependants are automatically covered on a family or single parent membership until they reach 21 years of age. Further cover is available after this age for student dependants.|
|Child dependants are less than 22 years of age, are not married or in a de facto relationship, are related to the policyholder and are reliant on the policyholder for maintenance and support. Student dependants meet all the above criteria except they are aged between 22 and 24 years (inclusive) and are full-time students at a school, college or university. Adult dependants are aged between 22 and 24 years but are not student dependants.|
|The term ‘dependant children’ includes all dependant children up to the age of 21. Children aged from 21 to 25 years of age and engaged in full-time study can be covered as student dependants.|
|Unmarried children up to the age of 21 can be covered as dependant children, while unmarried children aged from 21 to 25 and are full-time students in an approved apprenticeship / study course can also be covered.|
You can see the full list of Australian health funds and how they define dependants at the end of this article.
Do you have young children on your health insurance?
If you have a young family with kids, chances are you won’t have a lot of extra money and may already have a large mortgage to pay. So you may be tempted to think that private health insurance is something you just can’t afford at the moment.
The reality is, you really can’t afford not to have it. Young children are still growing and are more prone to illnesses and injuries than adults at this stage in life, so having a safety net in place in case something unexpected happens makes really good sense.
Family health cover for parents of young children – Hospital
You obviously want to protect your family's health and while comprehensive cover may be beyond your means at this stage, you may opt for mid-range hospital cover to ensure they get good care and don’t have to languish on a waiting list. Ambulance cover would also be a good idea, as emergency ambulance is not covered by Medicare.
Family health cover for parents of young children – Extras
Extras cover is a must for young families. Dental in particular is one of the most popular extras and if your children develop signs of orthodontic problems, it could be a financial lifesaver. The kind of family you are will determine the kind of extras you opt for. If you are a health-conscious family that plays physical sports, extras such as physio may be of greater benefit. Or if your family has a genetic predisposition for vision problems, optical may be a worthwhile inclusion.
Important considerations for families with young children
As well as the security hospital cover provides and the financial assistance provided by extras cover, there are three important reasons why young families should take out private health insurance:
- Government rebate. The government provides a financial incentive for taking out private health in the form of a rebate, the size of which is dependent on your family income.
- Medicare levy surcharge. If your family income is more than $180,000 pa, you will pay between 1% and 1.5% more tax than everyone else if you don’t have private hospital cover.
- Lifetime Health Cover loading. If you and your partner are approaching 31 years of age, it is in your interest to take out private health cover now to avoid having to pay 2% more every year after that in which you don’t have cover.
The great thing about modern health insurance is that you have plenty of choice and can tailor your hospital and extras cover to suit your priorities. The trick is to shop around and find the cover that suits your growing family’s needs.
Health insurance for expanding families
If you’re a couple starting a family, if you’ve got another kid on the way or if you’re forming a blended family through marriage, your health insurance needs are constantly changing. Reviewing your cover regularly is essential to ensure that you have the right protection in place.
Health insurance for expanding families – Hospital
Your hospital cover needs will vary as your family expands. For example, while pregnancy cover might be essential now, in a couple of years’ time it may be an unnecessary expense. At the same time, you’ll want to make sure you have adequate cover for your kids if they’re ever hospitalised for any reason.
Health insurance for expanding families – Extras
The right extras cover for you depends on your circumstances. For example, if you’ve got young kids you’ll definitely be able to benefit from dental cover, while if you’re taking on a couple of older step kids you may be able to benefit from cover for physio, chiro or other therapies. Once again, make sure to review your cover as often as possible.
Important considerations for expanding families
- Covered for stepchildren. Family membership of a private health fund allows you to cover your children under the age of 21, including your stepchildren, adopted children and permanent foster children.
- Medicare Levy Surcharge. This Government initiative imposes a financial penalty on high income-earners who don’t have any private health insurance cover in place. If you’re getting married and you and your new spouse have a combined annual income of $180,001 or more, if you don’t have an appropriate level of private hospital cover in place you will pay extra tax.
- Switching from a couples policy. If you’re starting a family, you’ll need to switch from couples cover to family cover to ensure that your children get adequate health cover.
Health insurance for single parents
Being a single parent is a tough and challenging gig. Not only do your kids rely on you for their health care, but with one income to rely on you need to find private health insurance that offers the best value for money. It’s important to compare a range of health insurance policies for single-parent families to find the one that offers the right policy for you.
Health insurance for single parents – Hospital
Hospital cover is an essential consideration for single-parent families. Having this type of policy in place will ensure that your kids can get the treatment they need if they’re involved in an accident or if they need ambulance transportation. It can also guarantee that you can avoid public hospital waiting lists and get the treatment you need when you need it - allowing you to continue to care for your children. However, depending on your circumstances, you may be able to save on premiums by choosing policies that exclude services you don’t need, for example pregnancy cover.
Health insurance for single parents – Extras
The right level of extras cover for you will change as your children get older. For example, while dental and orthodontic cover may be essential when your kids are younger, they may benefit more from increased cover for glasses or contact lenses as they get older. Compare your options before choosing cover and make sure to review your policy regularly to check whether it meets your needs.
Important considerations for single parents with health insurance:
- Specialist policies. Some insurers offer health insurance policies specifically designed for single-parent families. Compare these with other product options to see if they’re right for you.
- Lifetime Health Cover (LHC). Under the LHC initiative, you’ll be charged extra for hospital cover if you only take it out after July 1 following your 31st birthday. Take out cover before this time to avoid any premium loading.
- Getting divorced. If you’re going through a divorce, make sure that you keep your health insurance cover in place. If you allow your cover to lapse, you may need to re-serve waiting periods when you re-apply for cover.
Do you have older children on your health insurance?
As the years pass, circumstances change. Your kids grow up but are still living under your roof and you will need to review your health insurance on a regular basis to ensure you are still getting good value for money.
Family health cover for parents of older children – Hospital
Until they leave home and take out their own health insurance, it would be wise to continue maintaining hospital cover for your kids. Things you may be able to cut back on to make it more affordable could include pregnancy cover, if you’re not planning to have any more kids.
Family health cover for parents of older children – Extras
The kind of extras your children need may change as they become young adults. They will possibly have less need for orthodontia as those braces finally come off and more need for physio, chiro and alternative therapies. If they need vision correction, those plain old frames won’t cut it anymore and contact lenses will become the accessory choice, possibly increasing the need for upgraded optical cover.
Important considerations for families with older children
- Government rebate. You will still receive financial assistance with your private health cover in the form of the government rebate. The threshold rises by $1,500 per child.
- Medicare levy surcharge. You will not be penalised if your adult children remain at home, as their income is not included in your overall family income.
- Lifetime Health Cover loading. As your children prepare to leave the nest, this is the time to emphasise the importance of taking out private health before they turn 31 to avoid the 2% p.a. loading.
Does private health insurance cover pregnancy?
Yes, it does. The good news is that private health insurance can provide cover for pregnancy, childbirth, obstetrics and other related costs. However, don’t automatically assume that your hospital cover includes pregnancy - many policies for younger health fund members exclude pregnancy from cover in order to keep costs down. Other policies may only offer restricted cover for pregnancy, for example only as a private patient in a public hospital, so it’s essential that you check to see what your policy covers before you begin planning to start a family.
There are several other tips to remember when it comes to private health insurance and pregnancy:
- Don’t wait until you’re pregnant. Many health insurers require you to serve a waiting period of 12 months before you can access pregnancy cover, so if you’re already pregnant it’ll be too late to get the cover you need.
- What Medicare covers. Medicare offers comprehensive cover for many of the costs associated with pregnancy in a public hospital. However, private health insurance can be beneficial if there are unexpected expenses associated with your pregnancy, if you want a private room in a private hospital, and if you want to choose your own hospital, obstetrician and specialists.
- Pregnancy and birth related services. If your private health insurance covers pregnancy and birth related services, be aware that this refers to hospital admissions for childbirth. It does not costs incurred outside of hospital, such as GP visits and some other scans and tests.
- Take out a family policy. To make sure your new baby receives the same health insurance cover as you, make sure to add your little bundle of joy to your family policy.
Health insurance tips for families
The following tips are worth keeping in mind to ensure you have the best health insurance for families*:
- Review your cover at least once a year, as your children grow up and your circumstances change, to make sure you are getting good value for money and being covered for the things that matter most to your family.
- Look for a policy that offers individual benefit limits rather than overall capped limits on extras, as your family may exceed those limits if they aren’t high enough.
- Don’t be afraid to switch if you find a better policy, as your benefits and current status must be honoured by your new insurer.
- If two different insurers have the best hospital and extras cover, there is no law that says you can’t have a separate policy with each.
- Avoid policies where hospital cover includes both an excess and a co-payment, or you could end up paying twice; once upon admission and then every day you are in hospital.
- Look for policies that offer full ambulance cover rather than just emergency ambulance cover, which does not cover non-life threatening journeys.
Medicare levy surcharge for families
The Medicare Levy Surcharge (MLS) was introduced by the Australian Government as part of an effort to reduce the strain on Australia’s public healthcare system by encouraging more people to invest in private health cover. If you earn above a certain income level and you don’t have any private health insurance cover, you’ll need to pay the MLS at tax time.
Australian taxpayers already pay a Medicare Levy of 2%. But if your family income is above a certain threshold, you’ll need to pay the MLS amount detailed in the table below.
Medicare Levy Surcharge (MLS)
Families should also be aware that the income thresholds listed in the table above increase by $1,500 for each MLS dependant child after the first.
So if you’re a high income earner, taking out private health insurance will ensure that you pay less tax. To avoid the MLS, families need to have an appropriate level of private patient hospital cover that charges an excess of $1,000 or less.
What is the private health insurance rebate
The government’s private health insurance rebate is designed to assist families and couples with the financial cost of maintaining private health insurance. The rebate is payable in the form of a discounted premium through your insurer or as a rebate in your tax return.
There are three income thresholds known as Tier 1, Tier 2 and Tier 3 and your income in relation to these thresholds determines how much rebate you receive. As mentioned previously, the threshold increases by $1500 with each dependent child. While the threshold is not affected by one dependent child, it increases by $1500 for each child after the first.
< Age 65
Find the right cover for your family
To sum up, there is clearly a growing need for families to have private health cover, both to avoid government penalties such as the Medicare Levy Surcharge and Lifetime Health Cover loading and also to take advantage of incentives such as the private health insurance rebate. Luckily, with so much choice in the marketplace these days, protecting your family with private health cover is still quite possible to do on a budget with a little mixing and matching and some online research.
Whether or not your children will be covered past their 18th birthday will vary depending on which health fund you're with. Below is a list of health funds in Australia and how they define the various types of children dependents.
|ACA Health Benefits Fund|
|ahm Health Insurance|
|Australian Unity Health Limited|
|Bupa Australia Pty Ltd|
|CBHS Health Fund Limited|
|CDH Benefits Fund|
|CUA Health Limited|
|Defence Health Limited|
|Doctors Health Fund|
|Frank Health Insurance|
|HBF Health Limited|
|Health Care Insurance Limited|
|Health Insurance Fund of Australia Limited|
|Latrobe Health Services|
|Medibank Private Limited|
|Mildura Health Fund|
|National Health Benefits Australia Pty Ltd (onemedifund)|
|Navy Health Ltd|
|NIB Health Funds Ltd.|
|Peoplecare Health Insurance|
|Phoenix Health Fund Limited|
|Queensland Country Health Fund Ltd|
|Railway and Transport Health Fund Limited|
|Reserve Bank Health Society Ltd|
|Teachers Health Fund|
|Transport Health Pty Ltd|
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*The offers compared on this page are chosen from a range of products finder.com.au has access to track details from and is not representative of all the products available in the market. Products are displayed in no particular order or ranking. The use of terms 'Best' and 'Top' are not product ratings and are subject to our disclaimer. You should consider seeking independent financial advice and consider your personal financial circumstances when comparing products.