Tips for students looking for health insurance in March

Richard Laycock 15 March 2017

Happy young university students studying with books in library.

How can you get the most out of your health cover as a student?

As March ticks along, time is running out for those wanting to get cover before the rate rise on 1 April. While most students probably don't have a full year's premiums lying around to beat the rate hike, we thought we would look at some of the benefits important to students, as well as a couple of tips for saving money on health cover.

Generally, as a full-time student you're able to stay on your parent's policy until somewhere between the ages of 21 and 25. However, staying on your parent's health insurance isn't always an option for everybody.

Whether you're studying past the age of 25, only studying part-time, getting married, wanting more from your cover or you're parents just don't have health insurance, it's important you ensure you're getting the best bang for your buck.

Should you get hospital cover?

If you're worried about hospital cover, you will need to weigh up the pros and cons of public versus private hospital treatment. If it's important for you to have a private room or you want to avoid waiting lists and pick your own surgeon, then you may want to look into hospital cover.

However, hospital cover is expensive. So, if you're young and healthy and don't want to spend a bomb on cover, you may just want to go for the public option. Plus, as you're a student, you don't have to worry about the Lifetime Health Cover loading, which is a 2% surcharge on top of your normal premiums for each year you don't have hospital cover after your 31st birthday.

What about extras?

If you're not interested in hospital cover, you may still wish to get covered for incidentals: extras. This includes services such as optical, dental, natural therapies, chiro and physio. Extras is also a good option for people wanting to get subsidised gym memberships and other wellness benefits.

The Private Health Insurance Ombudsman report, State of Health Insurance, tracks the percent of extras charges covered by health funds each year. The table below displays the average extras covered between 2011 and 2015 for selected funds.

FundDentalOpticalNatural therapies
Australian Unity47%66%48%
BUPA51%52%38%
CBHS (Restricted)50%53%45%
GMHBA50%60%39%
HCF55%53%35%
HIF50%47%27%
Health.com.au*57%48%65%
Medibank50%60%51%
NIB56%55%54%
Transport67%58%43%
Teachers Health (Restricted)54%50%49%

* Data only available for 2013-15

If you're worried about accessibility, many funds now offer claims apps, so it has never been easier to lodge a claim with your health fund.

Finally, if it all comes down to price or value for money, there are a few tips for finding the right fund:

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