What's the best* health cover for singles? A guide to finding the right cover.
This article discusses the factors that make a singles policy the best* as well as tips for getting maximum value out of your cover and how your life stage can impact your singles health insurance requirements. It also looks at any government incentives and penalties you need to be aware of.
- What makes a singles health insurance policy the best*?
- How do you decide what kind of cover is right for you?
- Health insurance tips for singles
- How can young singles benefit from cover?
- Is it worth taking out health insurance early as a single?
- Can single parents be covered by a singles policy?
- Health insurance articles for other life stages
A singles policy that meets your specific needs is what makes it the best*. However, there are some general features you may want to check:
- Does the policy have exclusions or benefit restrictions on treatments and services?
- Does the policy have Access Gap cover to help reduce or eliminate out-of-pocket expenses?
- Does the policy add value with member discounts and incentives for signing up?
- Does the policy allow you to claim government rebates and avoid government penalties?
No matter your life stage, the right kind of health cover you need depends on your general health, your lifestyle, your income and your personal preferences. Some examples include the following:
- If you play contact sports or extreme sports, such as skiing or parasailing, your risk of injury will be higher. In this case, you may be able to claim for accident treatment with hospital cover and physical therapies with extras cover.
- If you have a physical condition such as poor eyesight or bad teeth, extras cover will be much more valuable to you. Depending on your level of cover, you may be able to claim for major dental procedures and eye therapy.
- If you are a full-time student under 25, you may already be covered if your parents have a family health insurance policy in place.
- Don't be afraid to switch. If you find a better policy with another health fund, don’t be afraid to switch. In many cases, you can transfer your benefits and any waiting periods served to your new fund.
- Know what the excess is. Avoid policies that have both an excess and a co-payment, or you could be made to pay a lump sum on admission to hospital and then a further sum for every day you’re there.
- Know what the gap is. Try and join a health fund with Access Gap cover, and check that your practitioner participates in it prior to treatment. Access Gap cover reduces, or in some cases, removes any out-of-pocket expenses you may incur.
- Don’t choose based on price alone. With health insurance for singles, you generally get the cover you pay for, so if it’s noticeably cheaper than other policies, chances are it doesn’t cover you to the same extent.
- Read the product disclosure statement (PDS). This outlines the terms, conditions and any exclusions that apply to your policy. If you don’t read the fine print, you may get a nasty surprise later on if you ever need to make a claim.
Out of the two types of health insurance available, young people tend to lean more towards extras cover, which provides a more immediate return on investment by allowing them to claim for optical, dental and physio fees, which aren't covered by Medicare.
On the other hand, young singles often view hospital cover as a waste of money since they feel it's unlikely they'll require any hospital treatment until later in life. However, the statistics below tell a different story:
Some people choose to pair a cheap basic hospital policy with a higher level of extras cover. That way they are covered in the event of accidental injury and also for the commonly used out-of-hospital services mentioned above.
Health insurance features young singles should look out for
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In addition to the benefits outlined above, there are some other incentives for taking out cover that some singles may not be aware of. The benefits of getting the best* health insurance for singles earlier rather than later include the following:
- Lifetime health cover loading. This is a 2% loading for every year you don’t have private hospital cover after turning 31. If you don't take out cover before then, your health insurance costs will start to rise.
- Medicare levy surcharge. If you're a single earning over $90,000 p.a., the government will charge you an extra 1% in tax if you don’t have hospital cover, 1.25% if you earn over $105,000 p.a. and 1.5% over $140,000 p.a.
- Government rebate. If you earn less than the threshold amount, you will receive a rebate for having private cover, either in the form of a premium discount from your fund or as a tax rebate.
Unfortunately, they can't. In the past, single parents were forced to get cover under a family policy, which meant they would pay double what a single would pay on only one income. Happily, changes to government legislation in 2007 enabled health funds to offer premium reductions to single parents, making health insurance more accessible.
Be aware that the size of the reduction is up to the health fund (one might offer 10% and another 25%), so be sure to shop around to find out which ones are offering the highest discount. If you're a single parent who took out cover prior to 2007, make sure to check that you are receiving a reduction and if not, consider switching to another fund.
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