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Choosing private health insurance

It's not always easy to choose private health insurance cover that suits you and your family. There are lots of options available so it's a good idea to work out what you need. Find out what questions to ask to help you make a good choice.

Ask the right questions

Choosing a private health insurance policy can seem overwhelming, as there are many options available.

Ask yourself some basic questions to help with your decision-making process:

  • Do you already have health insurance?
  • What type of cover do you need?
  • Who do you need to cover and is everyone eligible for Medicare?
  • What's your budget?
  • Can you join a restricted fund?

Do you already have health insurance?

If you already have private health insurance, think about what your current policy offers and whether your needs have changed. Waiting periods may apply to new, or higher, benefits.

If you don't have private health insurance, waiting periods usually apply for some services.

Find out more about waiting periods.

What kind of cover do you need?

Private health insurance policies can cover:

  • hospital care
  • extras
  • both

Make sure that any services you may need in the future are included — for example, some policies exclude things like pregnancy and birth-related services.

Who do you need to cover?

Health insurers offer different policies for:

  • single people
  • couples
  • families — children are only covered until a specified age, although some insurers will extend that for full-time students
  • single parents

Find out more about policies for overseas visitors.

Did you know that health insurers must:

  • accept eligible people as a member, no matter their health status, age or claims history
  • charge everyone the same premium for the same insurance policy

This is called community rating and means that all eligible people are treated equally.

There may be differences due to lifetime health cover or age-based discounts.

What's your budget?

Health insurers offer a range of policies to suit different budgets.

Generally, the higher your premium, the more benefits you can claim.

You also need to decide whether you want to pay lower premiums and pay an excess or co-payment if you go to hospital, or pay higher premiums and have either no excess or co-payment.

Other financial issues

Are you taking out private health insurance to avoid a lifetime health cover loading? To avoid the Medicare levy surcharge?

Find out more about how private health insurance works.

Find and compare policies

Health insurers in Australia must be registered under the Private Health Insurance (Prudential Supervision) Act 2015.

Use this online tool to compare policies. Select an insurer and choose your options on the policies tab. Choose a policy from the list to see the private health information statement. Because all health insurers must use this format it is easier to compare policies from different suppliers.

Review regularly

Your circumstances can changes at any time. You might:

  • earn more money and want to increase your cover
  • start a family and want to make sure you're covered for pregnancy and birth care
  • develop a serious health condition and need to include specific treatments
  • have children who have become adults and are no longer covered on your policy

It is a good idea to check your private health insurance when things change. Make sure you've got the policy that best suits your current needs.

Last updated: 
15 April 2019

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