Get the Finder app 🥳

Track your credit score, free

Free

Suspending your health insurance policy

Suspending your health insurance policy while you’re overseas or unemployed can help you save money without affecting your Lifetime Health Cover loading.

Updated

Fact checked

Without health insurance you may not be able to afford many ongoing medical bills that are not covered by medicare. However, sometimes the ongoing cost of maintaining your policy can seem like an added financial burden you just can't justify. You may have had a significant change in your financial situation or you may just be looking to make some savings on your bills but don't throw away your health insurance without first looking at your options.

You may be able to have your premiums suspended while you decide what to do with your policy. This guide takes you through some of the options you have when considering suspending your cover.

How long can you suspend cover for?

The minimum and maximum times for which you can suspend cover differ between funds. However, the following limits commonly apply:

  • You can suspend your membership for a minimum of two months
  • You can suspend your membership for a maximum of two years
  • The number of suspensions allowed per calendar year is usually limited to one or two
  • A separate limit may apply to the maximum suspension allowed for financial hardship, for example three 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.

FundIs it possible to suspend health insurance with this fund?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
health.com.au
  • Yes
  • Yes
  • Yes
2 months5 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

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 opt to cancel your current cover 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.

In addition, temporarily suspending your health insurance policy does not have any effect on your Lifetime Health Cover (LHC) loading. However, if you cancel cover this can have serious implications for the cost of cover when you take out a new policy.

How long can I pause my hospital cover for?

You can go without hospital cover health insurance for periods adding up to a total 1,094 days of absence. However, once you’ve used up your total allotment of 1,094 days without cover, you’ll have to pay an additional 2% premium loading on top of any loading you were already paying.

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.

Are there any other conditions?

Individual health funds usually impose a range of other conditions on your eligibility to suspend cover temporarily.

  • You will need to get permission from your fund to suspend cover, so you’ll need to have an acceptable reason to ask for this option. Financial hardship and overseas travel are the two most common reasons for taking a break from cover, but your health fund may also allow a suspension in other specific circumstances.
  • There may also be a limit on how many times you can suspend your membership in a calendar year – either once or twice are the limits most commonly imposed. Check with your health fund to find out if there are any other special conditions you need to meet.
  • If you’re a high-income earner and you suspend your policy, you may have to pay the Medicare Levy Surcharge in your tax return for that financial year.

How do you suspend your cover?

It’s usually quick and easy to temporarily suspend your health fund membership. If you’re suspending due to financial hardship, you will need to get in touch with your health fund by phone, email or post, or potentially fill out an online application form. Once the suspension ends, you’ll need to start making premium payments again within 30 days.

If you’re suspending cover while you travel overseas, make sure your travel dates are locked in and then contact your health fund 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.

Finally, remember that your membership suspension must be approved before you depart on your overseas trip, as you can’t apply for a backdated suspension.

Am I covered while my policy is suspended?

You will not receive any cover for health care expenses you incur while your policy is suspended. This means that you will not be able to make any hospital or extras claims, but also that you will not be required to pay any premiums during this time.

However, despite the fact that no cover is provided, you are still considered to be a member of the fund during this time. As a result, you will be able to easily resume cover when the suspension period ends.

How do I restart my policy?

You’ll need to restart cover within 30 days of the end of the suspension date, otherwise your policy could be cancelled. Your fund will most likely remind you when cover is due to be resumed or automatically reinstate cover at your requested date.

If you’ve been overseas with an unconfirmed return date, inform the health fund that you are back in Australia within 30 days of your return (you will usually need to provide a passport, flight ticket or boarding pass as proof). If you are no longer experiencing financial hardship and can afford to resume cover, you can let your health fund know at any time.

Once you’ve restarted your policy, your level of cover, benefits and waiting periods will all be the same as they were before the suspension.

What if my fund won’t suspend my cover?

The rules for suspending your membership vary from one health fund to the next. So if your fund refuses to let you suspend your policy, contact other funds to find out whether they would be willing to grant a suspension.

If suspending your membership is not an option, remember that you may be able to let cover lapse for a limited period – remember, you’re allowed a combined total of 1,094 days without any cover without it having any effect on your LHC loading.

Compare policies from 30+ Australian health funds

Picture: Shutterstock

Related Posts

You might like these...

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

  1. 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

  2. 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 expat health insurance depending on your planned return visits.

      I hope this helps.

      Thank you and have a wonderful day!

      Cheers,
      Jeni

Go to site