Health insurance can be a tricky beast. Whether you’re thinking about starting a family, crossing those pesky tax thresholds or just wanting the best level of health care possible, it can be puzzling to figure out.
At finder.com.au, we aim to clear up the confusion so that you can find a policy that suits your needs and budget. You can get a quote and compare policies from over 30 companies here in Australia and be well on your way to knocking one more thing off your to-do list. Our services are 100% free and we don’t mark up prices or ask for your phone number.
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Health insurance is a financial product that helps you cover the cost of your hospital treatments as well as some out-of-hospital services. These two services are broken into two groups: hospital treatments and general treatments (also known as ancillary services or extras).
While we're lucky as Australians to have access to hospital treatment through our public healthcare system Medicare, private health insurance provides you with more options.
|Medicare||Private health insurance|
|Public hospital services|
|Private room or hospital|
|Everyday health (dentist, physio, etc)|
You have 5 options
When you're looking for private health insurance, it's up to you to decide whether you want hospital or extras or a package with both. You also have the option of taking out a standalone ambulance policy, but ambulance cover is generally included in most extras policies.
Option 1: Hospital cover
A hospital policy covers you for hospital procedures and accommodation, letting you choose your doctor and access a private room when available. A hospital policy is also what you need to avoid the Medicare Levy Surcharge (MLS).
Health insurance hospital cover
Option 2: Extras cover
Also known as general or ancillary cover, extras cover allows you to claim for out-of-hospital health services such as dental, physio and even ambulance. You can choose a plan that pays either a set benefit refund or a percentage of the total cost of your service.
Health insurance extras cover
Option 3: Hospital and extras combined
Get a comprehensive level of protection with a combined policy that includes cover for hospital and extras services. These policies are typically designed to suit certain groups or lifestyles such as families, young couples or singles.
Health insurance hospital and extras cover
Option 4: Overseas Visitor Health Cover (OVHC)
If you're looking to visit, work or study in Australia, you may need OVHC. Whether you're looking for a basic policy that just ticks the necessary boxes or a comprehensive policy that gives you the best health care during your stay, there are several options available.
Option 5: No health insurance
Sometimes it just doesn’t feel worthwhile for you to take out private health insurance when Medicare is free. You can take this 1-minute quiz to help you figure out whether you would benefit from hospital cover, extras cover, both or neither.
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The cost of health insurance, unlike other insurance products, really comes down to the choices you make. A basic hospital policy can start from $16 a week and an extras policy from just $3 a week with April 2018 pricing.
You can also easily compare hundreds of policies to find either a cheap or comprehensive policy that works for your budget.
Private health insurance is community rated meaning that no matter how old you are or whether you have any pre-existing conditions, everyone pays the same amount for the same cover. However, there are ways that you can save a few dollars:
- Prepay for your policy before 1 April each year. Every year on 1 April, health insurance premiums go up to keep in line with inflation, the rising costs of health care and other factors. If you prepay 12 months' worth of premiums before 1 April, you can postpone the rate rise's effect on your hip pocket.
- Annual payment discounts. If you're planning on paying for your policy in advance for the next year, look for a fund that offers discounts for doing so. Some of these funds offer discounts of up to 4%.
- Direct debit discounts. While we're on the topic of payment discounts, some funds offer a 4% discount for customers who pay for their premiums by direct debit.
- Health discounts. Some funds, such as myOwn, are dipping their toes in the water and starting to reward their healthier members with discounted premiums.
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The Australian Government has introduced a number of schemes to encourage people who can afford private health care to take it out. Private health care takes the burden off the public health system so that people who really need it can access it when they need to. There are therefore a few schemes that may impact you if you don't have private health insurance.
- Lifetime Health Cover (LHC) loading. This is designed to encourage Australians to maintain health insurance from a younger age. It does this by increasing premiums by 2% for every year after your 31st birthday that you don't have cover.
- Medicare Levy Surcharge (MLS). This is an additional tax penalty ranging from 1% to 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.
- Private health insurance rebate. One of the major benefits of having private health insurance is being able to claim the private health insurance rebate. The rebate is determined by your age, your relationship status and your income.
Health insurance in Australia is changing. For more details on the upcoming healthcare reforms and what they mean for you, check out our detailed analysis or watch the 2-minute video below.