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Leaving your family health policy

Are you too old to be covered by your family policy? Find what to look for in health insurance for 25 year olds.

Having your mum and dad provide you with financial assistance is great, but there comes a time in everyone’s life when you have to leave the nest. When you turn 25, you can no longer be listed as a dependant on your parents’ health insurance policy, so you need to start shopping around to find private health cover for yourself. Here’s what you need to do to leave your parents’ health fund and find private health insurance that meets all the needs of a young, fit and healthy Australian.

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Leaving your parents’ health fund

There are several reasons why you might have to leave your parents’ health fund and take out cover on your own, including:

  • Turning 25. Following your 25th birthday you will be ineligible to be listed as a dependant on your parents’ health insurance policy. The maximum age for student dependants is 25. A student dependant is someone who studies full-time and is financially reliant on their parents. If you’re not a full-time student, the cut-off age for dependants on many policies is 18 or 21 years.
  • Entering full-time employment. If you have a full-time job and have started earning a stable income, most health funds will no longer classify you as a dependant. This means it’s time to branch out on your own and find a policy for yourself.
  • Graduating. Finished your degree and no longer a full-time student? You will no longer be classified as a student dependant and will need to start shopping around for cover.
  • Getting married. Most insurers stipulate that in order to be classified as a dependant, you must be unmarried. So if you and your partner are walking down the aisle, it’s time to start looking for your own private health insurance.

How long can you stay on your parents' health insurance?

FundFamily health insurance conditions for dependantsMore info about fund
  • Child dependant. Child dependants are covered up until 21 years of age.
  • Student dependant. Your child can be covered as a student up until 24 years of age if they are engaged in full-time study.
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  • Child dependant. Children are covered until they reach 21 years of age.
  • Student dependant. A child who is enrolled in full-time study and aged between 21 and 25.
More info
  • Child dependant. A child dependant is the child of the member who is not married or living in a de facto relationship and is under the age of 21.
  • Student dependant. A student dependant is a child who is unmarried, is over 21 but is under the age of 25, and engaged in full-time education.
  • Adult dependant. An adult dependant is a child who is unmarried, is over 21 but is under 25 years of age, and no undertaking full-time study.
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Australian Unity
  • Child dependant. A dependant is a child aged up to 23 years old who is unmarried.
  • Student dependant. A student dependant is able to be covered on your family policy until they reach 25 years of age. This is provided they aren't married and are enrolled in an approved course.
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GMHBA health fund
  • Child dependant. You can be covered as a child dependant until the age of 21 if you're no longer a student.
  • Student dependant. You can be covered as a student dependant if you're engaged in full-time study and under 25 years of age.
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  • Child dependant. Your children are automatically covered under your family cover until the day before they turn 22.
  • Student dependant. If your child is enrolled in full-time study they'll be covered at no extra cost until the day before they turn 25 or cease full time study (whichever comes first).
More info
  • Child dependant. Your children can be covered until they reach 21 years of age.
  • Student dependant. You're children are covered if they are unmarried, enrolled in full-time study and aged between 21 and 25 years of age.
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Transport Health
  • Child dependant. Children can remain on their parent’s policy if they're under 23 and not married.
  • Student dependant. A student dependant is someone who is enrolled in full-time study, fully dependant on their parents and under 25 years of age.
  • Adult dependant. You are able to get cover for your children aged between 21 and 25 who are not studying full-time with the Extended Family Cover.
More info

You can see the full list of Australian health funds and how they define dependants in our family health insurance article.

No longer a dependant and need your own cover?

If you’ve recently graduated from uni or turned 25, you may no longer be eligible to be covered under your parents’ health insurance policy. This means that if you don’t take out health insurance for yourself, you won’t be able to access treatment in a private hospital, avoid public hospital waiting lists, choose your own doctor or receive cover for the cost of a wide range of in-hospital medical procedures. You also won’t be able to access any extras cover for general treatments like dental and physio, so not only could your health suffer but your bank balance could also take a hit if you ever need any out-of-hospital health care.

And remember that if there’s a break in your cover, such as if you don’t move straight from your parents’ policy over to your own policy, you could have to serve waiting periods before you can receive any health insurance benefits. For example, you might have to wait six months before you can claim a pair of glasses on your new health insurance policy, so it’s important to take steps to ensure that you always have health cover in place.

To maintain cover you must choose a level of cover that is equal to or lesser than your parents’ policy, and you typically have a grace period of 30 days once you’re no longer eligible to be a dependant to take out your own policy.

What should you be looking for in a policy if you’re young?

It’s important for all Australians to choose a private health insurance policy suitable for their current stage of life. If you’re young and healthy with no major medical concerns, you need to choose a policy that provides cover for the services you may need but excludes those that you don’t.

For example, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll need cover for a hip replacement, and paying for a policy that covers pregnancy and assisted reproductive services just wouldn’t make any financial sense. Instead, young Australians need cover that’s suited to their unique health care needs. According to figures from the Australian Institute of Health & Welfare, more than 2.04 million Australians aged 15-34 ended up in emergency rooms around the country in 2014/15.

With this in mind, having cover in place for ambulance transport and accidental injury treatment is essential. The other key factor young singles should look for in a health insurance policy is affordability. This means the policy should not only keep premiums at a level that suits your budget, but it should also entitle you to tax breaks (such as the private health insurance rebate) to help make cover as cost-effective as possible.

Medicare is free – so why should you bother with health insurance?

If you're young and fit, private health insurance can seem like an unnecessary expense, particularly once your parents are no longer footing the bill. Here's why it's a good idea to consider getting your own cover:

  • Extras are exxy. Whether you've been used to getting regular dental checkups, sessions with a psychologist or occasional remedial massages for a sports injury, the cost of these can add up, and be considerably more than the cost of insurance.
  • Emergencies happen. In fact, according to the 2015-16 statistics from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 27.5% of emergency room visits were from people between the ages of 15 and 34. Having private health can mean the difference between a crowded public ward and a private room in a private hospital.

3 good reasons to consider getting health insurance in your 20s

What is singles cover?

Many Australian health funds offer health insurance policies that are specifically designed to meet the cover needs and budgets of young, single Australians. Whether you want standalone hospital or extras cover or a policy that combines both these options, singles health insurance is designed to offer you the cover you need at a price you can afford.

What is hospital-only cover?

Hospital cover is designed to protect you against the cost of a wide range of in-hospital procedures. It includes cover for accommodation in either a public or private hospital, your choice of doctor, theatre costs and other expenses associated with your medical treatment. Hospital cover offers a long list of benefits for young singles, including:

  • Cover to suit your needs and budget. Australian private health funds offer a wide range of hospital cover options so that you can choose a policy that suits your needs and budget. There are even some policies specifically created to meet the health insurance requirements of young singles.
  • Tax breaks. Taking out hospital cover means you can avoid the Medicare Levy Surcharge and also access the Australian Government’s private health insurance rebate to make cover more affordable.
  • Avoid Lifetime Health Cover (LHC) loading. If you take out private hospital cover before your 31st birthday, you can avoid paying extra for cover thanks to the LHC scheme.
  • Peace of mind. Hospital cover provides you with the confidence and peace of mind that comes with knowing you will be able to pay your medical bills if you ever suffer an unexpected illness or injury.
  • Cover for a wide range of services. From knee reconstructions and appendix removal to pregnancy and birth-related services, hospital cover provides protection against the cost of a wide range of in-hospital procedures.

What is extras-only insurance?

Extras-only insurance provides cover for a wide range of out-of-pocket medical expenses that are not covered by Medicare. Sometimes also referred to as general treatment cover or ancillary cover, extras-only health insurance covers you for out-of-hospital medical services such as optical, dental, physio, chiro, podiatry, natural therapies and much more. There are plenty of reasons why young singles can benefit from having extras cover in place, including:

  • Choose cover that suits your needs. Whether you want basic extras cover for some essential treatments, or comprehensive extras cover for a wide range of treatment options, Australian health insurers have extras cover policy options to suit everyone. Some insurers even have extras policies designed with young singles in mind.
  • Standalone or combined. You can take out standalone extras cover or combine it with hospital cover for a higher level of protection.
  • Ambulance cover. Many extras policies also include cover for the cost of emergency ambulance transportation and treatment, which is not covered by Medicare.
  • Reduce healthcare costs. Extras policies provide cover for the cost of a wide range of general treatments, allowing you to take better care of your health.
  • Government rebate. Taking out extras cover entitles you to the Australian Government’s private health insurance rebate, which helps make cover more affordable.

What is combined cover?

Combined cover is a health insurance policy that offers both hospital and extras cover in the one package. This allows you to enjoy the convenience of taking out the two main types of private health insurance – hospital cover for in-hospital treatment and extras cover for general treatments like optical and dental – in one policy. The vast majority of Australian private health insurers offer a range of combined cover options, and taking out this type of insurance has many benefits for young singles, including:

  • It’s tailored to your needs. Many insurers offer combined cover options that have been specifically designed with the needs of young singles in mind. This means you only pay for the services you are likely to use and none that you won’t.
  • You only have to manage one policy instead of two. Combined cover allows you to manage your hospital and extras cover in the one policy. This can make it easier to compare, choose and purchase cover.
  • Potential discounts. When you purchase combined hospital and extras cover many funds have member only discounts that will be available to you.
  • Wide range of cover. Having both hospital and extras cover in place means you are covered for an extensive range of in-hospital services and general treatment options.

Compare your health insurance options now

Picture: Shutterstock

Richard Laycock

Richard is the insurance editor at He is on a mission to make insurance easier to understand.

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