Suspending your health insurance policy

You can suspend health insurance for several reasons, which can save you money in a few ways.

We’re reader-supported and may be paid when you visit links to partner sites. We don’t compare all products in the market, but we’re working on it!

Can you suspend your health insurance policy?

Most health funds let you suspend your health insurance cover. That said, the minimum and maximum times for which you can suspend cover varies between brands. The following limits commonly apply:

  • You can suspend your membership for a minimum of 2 months
  • You can suspend your membership for a maximum of 2 years
  • The number of suspensions allowed per calendar year is usually limited to 1 or 2
  • A separate limit may apply to the maximum suspension allowed for financial hardship, for example 3 months
  • There may also be a lifetime limit on the number of financial hardship suspensions permitted

Check the fine print with your health fund for full details of any limits that apply.

Who is eligible to suspend cover?

Eligibility rules for temporarily suspending your health insurance policy vary between funds. However, to qualify for this option you will typically need to:

  • Have been an active member of the health fund for at least 12 consecutive months
  • Have all your premium payments up to date

If going overseas, you will also need to apply for a suspension prior to your departure date as you cannot retrospectively apply to suspend cover.

Which health funds let you suspend health insurance cover?

Every Australian health insurance provider has the option to suspend your coverage. However, some health funds are more flexible with their suspension policy than others. Finder makes it easy to compare health insurance from these funds for free.

FundAllows health insurance policy suspensions?Can I suspend my cover because of financial hardship?Can I suspend my cover if I become unemployed?Minimum amount of time to be overseasMaximum time to suspend cover
AAMI Health Insurance
  • Yes
  • Yes
Not mentioned2 months2 years
ahm Health Insurance
  • Yes
  • Yes
  • Yes
30 days2 years
CUA Health Limited
  • Yes
  • Yes
Not mentioned2 months3 years
HCF
  • Yes
  • Yes
Not mentioned30 days2 years
Medibank Private Limited
  • Yes
  • Yes
Not mentioned2 months4 years
NIB Health Funds Ltd.
  • Yes
  • Yes
Not mentioned2 months2 years
Qantas Health Insurance
  • Yes
  • Yes
Not mentioned2 months2 years
Suncorp Health Insurance
  • Yes
  • Yes
Not mentioned2 months2 years
ACA Health Benefits Fund
  • Yes
  • Yes
Not mentioned3 months2 years
Australian Unity Health Limited
  • Yes
  • Yes
Not mentioned2 months2 years
Bupa Australia Pty Ltd
  • Yes
  • Yes
Not mentioned2 months2 years
CBHS Corporate Health Pty Ltd
  • Yes
  • Yes
Not mentioned6 weeks3 years
CBHS Health Fund Limited
  • Yes
  • Yes
Not mentioned6 weeks3 years
Defence Health Limited
  • Yes
  • Yes
Not mentioned28 Days2 years
Doctors' Health Fund
  • Yes
Not mentionedNot mentioned1 monthNot mentioned
Emergency Services Health
  • Yes
  • Yes
Not mentioned14 Days2 years
GMHBA Limited
  • Yes
Not mentionedNot mentioned1 month3 years
Grand United Corporate Health
  • Yes
  • Yes
Not mentioned2 months2 years
HBF Health Limited
  • Yes
Not mentionedNot mentioned2 months6 months
Health Care Insurance Limited
  • Yes
  • Yes
Not mentioned28 days2 years
Health Partners
  • Yes
  • Yes
Not mentioned3 weeks2 years
HIF
  • Yes
Not mentionedNot mentioned2 months2 years
Hunter Health Insurance
  • Yes
Not mentionedNot mentioned2 months2 years
Latrobe Health Services
  • Yes
Not mentionedNot mentionedNot mentionedNot mentioned
Mildura Health Fund
  • Yes
Not mentionedNot mentioned2 weeks2 years
National Health Benefits Australia Pty Ltd (onemedifund)
  • Yes
  • Yes
Not mentionedNot mentioned2 years
Navy Health Ltd
  • Yes
  • Yes
Not mentioned1 month2 years
Nurses & Midwives Health
  • Yes
  • Yes
Not mentioned2 months3 years
Peoplecare Health Insurance
  • Yes
  • Yes
  • Yes
4 weeks2 years
Phoenix Health Fund Limited
  • Yes
Not mentionedNot mentioned21 days2 years
Police Health
  • Yes
  • Yes
Not mentioned14 days2 years
Queensland Country Health Fund Ltd
  • Yes
  • Yes
Not mentioned1 month2 years
Railway and Transport Health Fund Limited
  • Yes
Not mentionedNot mentioned28 days2 years
Reserve Bank Health Society Ltd
  • Yes
  • Yes
  • Yes
3 months40 months
St.Lukes Health
  • Yes
Not mentionedNot mentioned2 weeks2 years
Teachers Health Fund
  • Yes
  • Yes
Not mentioned2 months36 months
Transport Health Pty Ltd
  • Yes
  • Yes
  • Yes
30 days12 months
TUH
  • Yes
  • Yes
  • Yes
2 months3 years
Westfund Limited
  • Yes
  • Yes
  • Yes
2 months24 months

The tax impacts of suspending health insurance

While suspending your health insurance policy can save you money on your premiums, there are other tax implications that you may face by not have adequate coverage, depending on your circumstances. The main ones you need to worry about are the Lifetime Health Cover Loading and the Medicare Levy Surcharge.

Lifetime Health Cover Loading

If you're 31 years or older, you can go without hospital cover for a total 1,094 days (around 3 years) without affecting your Lifetime Health Cover Loading. However, once you've used up 1,094 days without cover, the loading will kick in again, adding 2% to your future premiums for each year you're not covered.

Medicare Levy Surcharge

If you earn over $90,000 per year, you're probably required to pay the Medicare Levy Surcharge, an additional levy on your tax of between 1% and 1.5%. If you suspend your policy, you may have to pay the MLS in your tax return for that financial year.

Why would I want to suspend my health insurance policy?

People suspend their health insurance for many different reasons. Financial hardship is a major reason people do this. If you've lost your job or are battling debt problems and struggling to meet your premium payments, your health fund may agree to let you suspend your membership for a temporary period.

Another common reason for suspending a policy is overseas travel. Australian private health funds are unable to provide any cover for medical expenses you incur overseas – you’ll need overseas travel insurance for that sort of protection – so if you’re going to be out of the country for a couple of months or more, suspending cover makes good financial sense.

Why not just cancel my policy?

When your health fund agrees to allow you to suspend your membership for a temporary period, you will not have to re-serve any waiting periods when you resume cover at a later date. You will also be able to maintain the level of cover that suits your needs and keep the current benefit limits that apply to your policy.

But if you decide to cancel your health insurance and then take out a new policy sometime in the future, you will have to serve the full waiting periods set by the fund before you can claim any benefits. This could have a serious impact on your ability to access the health care you need, especially if you develop any health problems which will then be classed as pre-existing conditions by your new fund.

Frequently asked questions

Compare policies from 30+ Australian health funds

More guides on Finder

Save on your health insurance

Ask an Expert

You are about to post a question on finder.com.au:

  • Do not enter personal information (eg. surname, phone number, bank details) as your question will be made public
  • finder.com.au is a financial comparison and information service, not a bank or product provider
  • We cannot provide you with personal advice or recommendations
  • Your answer might already be waiting – check previous questions below to see if yours has already been asked

Finder only provides general advice and factual information, so consider your own circumstances, or seek advice before you decide to act on our content. By submitting a question, you're accepting our Terms of Use, Disclaimer & Privacy Policy and Privacy & Cookies Policy.

4 Responses

    Default Gravatar
    CatMay 20, 2019

    I have an HBF policy, I’m currently overseas and won’t be back for at least 6 months. I didn’t cancel it before I left so I’m still paying for it fortnightly, can I suspend it whilst I’m overseas? Thanks :)

      Avatarfinder Customer Care
      MaiMay 21, 2019Staff

      Hi Cat,

      Thank you for reaching out.

      Yes, it shows that HCF allows policy suspension if you are overseas for a minimum of 30 days and maximum of 2 years. You can contact them by phone, email or post, or by filling out an online application form if available. You will usually be sent a confirmation letter or email when your application for suspension has been approved.

      Hope this helps! 😊

      Kind Regards,
      Mai

    Default Gravatar
    MarJanuary 21, 2019

    What if I decide to not come back for good in Australia but will just be coming to visit or for holidays with a maximum stay of 3 months?

      Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JeniJanuary 22, 2019Staff

      Hi Mar,

      Thank you for getting in touch with Finder.

      You can normally only suspend your health insurance for 2-3 years max.

      If you’re leaving long term – it could work out better to consider something like ex-pat health insurance depending on your planned return visits. Please use our comparison table to help you find the health fund that suits you. When you are ready, press the “Go to site” button of your preferred insurer to request a quote or purchase a policy.

      Before applying, please ensure that you read through the relevant Product Disclosure Statements/Terms and Conditions when comparing your options before making a decision on whether it is right for you. You can also contact the provider if you have specific questions.

      I hope this helps.

      Thank you and have a wonderful day!

      Cheers,
      Jeni

Go to site