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What does private health insurance offer?

Private health insurance provides cover for health care not covered by Medicare such as physio and glasses. It allows you to choose the doctor and hospital you’re treated in and be treated more quickly for some services. Most people get a private health insurance rebate. You may also pay less tax.

Cover for more health services

Medicare doesn’t cover:

  • treatment at a private hospital of your choice by a doctor of your choice
  • health services such as physiotherapy, optometry and podiatry services
  • some medicines and devices

You can take out private health insurance to cover some or all of the costs of these services. To find out more, read how private health insurance works.

To find out more about the public health system (including Medicare) and private cover, go to what is private health insurance.

More choice and shorter waiting times

If you have private hospital cover, you can choose to be a private patient in a public or private hospital. This means you can choose the doctor and hospital you’re treated in.

Having private hospital cover also means you can be treated in a private hospital more quickly for some services.

Read how private health insurance works to find out more about private hospital cover.

Pay less tax

The Medicare levy surcharge is a tax on people who:

  • do not have private hospital cover
  • earn income over a certain level

The surcharge is on top of the Medicare levy and is up to 1.5% of your taxable income.

Find out more about the Medicare levy surcharge including if the surcharge applies to you.

If it applies to you, you can avoid the surcharge by taking out a policy that provides hospital cover.

Get a private health insurance rebate

Most people with private health insurance receive a rebate from the Australian Government. You get the rebate as:

  • lower insurance premiums through your health insurer, or
  • an offset in your annual tax return — this reduces the tax you have to pay

You’re entitled to a rebate if:

  • you have private health insurance that provides hospital cover, extras cover or both
  • your income is below a certain limit

The rebate amount varies depending on your income:

  • For singles, the singles income tiers apply.
  • For couples (including de facto) and single parents, the family income tiers apply. If you have children, the tiers increase for each child after the first.

To find out more:

Avoid paying more when you’re older

You can avoid higher premiums if you take out private hospital cover before you turn 31 years old.

Lifetime Health Cover is a government initiative that encourages you to take out hospital cover when you’re younger, and keep it over your lifetime.

If you’re over 31 and take out hospital cover for the first time, you may pay a loading for the next 10 years. The loading is an extra amount on top of your insurance premium.

The loading only applies to private hospital cover. It does not apply to extras cover.

Find out more about Lifetime Health Cover or use the Lifetime Health Cover calculators to work out your loading.

Last updated: 
11 April 2019

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