Getting married is a huge milestone in any couple's life.
It's a time to talk about joint finances and future plans, which means it's also time to think about combining your health cover.
To switch or not to switch? That is the question. Is it worth your effort to switch health funds?
What's the point of couple's cover, anyway? Now that we're married, do we really need to have the same health fund?
We've put together some information that will help you answer these questions.
Married couples do not need couple's health insurance, but there are many benefits to having joint cover.
Couples planning to start a family should organise health cover in advance, as they may need to serve waiting periods of 12 months before being eligible for maternity coverage.
Getting married changes the way the government determines your income, which can impact your Medicare Levy Surcharge or Health Insurance Rebate.
What’s included in couple’s health insurance?
Health insurance is generally made up of three different types of cover.
You can opt for just one of these, or a combination of whatever suits you best.
No surprises here! Hospital cover does just what it says on the box, and covers you for hospital stays and in-hospital medical procedures.
You'll have the advantage of choice and flexibility, with the ability to choose your doctor and bypass waiting lists in public hospitals.
Recovering in hospital as a private patient may be a more pleasant experience.
Think about how you feel when you're ill at home. Not exactly keen to spend time with strangers, right?
Hospital cover may give you access to private rooms, providing an element of control over your experience.
Hospital cover does not always include ambulance cover, which many people don't realise until they're hit with a bill.
Adding ambulance cover to your policy provides peace of mind.
You won't have to make an on-the-spot decision on whether you can afford an ambulance service, should one be required.
Also known as extras, general cover offers health services that may fit well with your family's lifestyle.
Depending on your policy, you may be covered for consultations, treatments, and materials that fall into these categories and more:
Do married couples need couple’s health insurance?
There's no rule that says married couples have to switch to a joint health insurance policy.
That decision is up to you and your spouse, and your answer will depend on your situation.
The cost of a couple's premium is roughly the same as you would pay for two single policies.
On top of that, there are benefits to a couple's policy that you might not have considered, so here are some things to think about.COMPARE & SAVE
Benefits of a couple’s policy
We've said that a couple's policy isn't necessarily cheaper than two single policies, so why bother switching? Here are a few reasons why.
It's also nice to know that you're covered for the extras you use regularly, whether that's dental, acupuncture, psychology or something else.
Will switching to a couple’s policy mean re-serving waiting periods?
If you've ever served a waiting period for health insurance, it's understandable that you wouldn't want to do it again.
It's a set period of time you must wait before you are eligible to claim on your hospital and extras cover.
Good news: If you've already served a waiting period for your current cover, you should be off the hook for this one.
Portability rules are in place to protect you from being trapped into your hospital cover.
As long as you're switching to a policy with an equal or lesser level of hospital cover, you aren't required to repeat the waiting period.
Although general cover doesn't fall under the same laws, many funds will allow you to transfer cover without sitting a new waiting period -- providing you switch to equivalent benefits with your new fund.
Keep in mind that if you're moving to a higher level of cover, you may have to serve a waiting period before becoming eligible for the new higher benefits.
Starting a family
You just got married! Isn't it a bit soon to talk about starting a family?
Actually...no. When it comes to health insurance, it might be smart to think ahead.
In fact, if you're considering having a baby within the next couple of years, the time to think about family cover is now.
Many couples think of family cover as something that kicks in when your little ones arrive, but that's not the case.
Family cover often offers a range of services that start before you even become pregnant, such as prenatal care or fertility treatments.
While you may be able to add pregnancy and birth related services to an existing couple's policy, you could run into restrictions if you discover the need for fertility treatments.
Locking in a family policy in advance means you can be covered for whatever comes your way.
The other reason for starting early on family health insurance is that pesky waiting period.
Most funds require a 12-month waiting period before you can claim for pregnancy and childbirth, which means you'll need the right level of cover before you even start trying to conceive.
What else is covered?
Family health insurance can cover any emergency medical services your baby may need after the birth.
If you haven't switched to a suitable plan, a medical emergency could leave you out of pocket at a very stressful time.COMPARE & SAVE
How marriage affects health insurance taxes and rebates
Getting married changes the way your income is defined for health insurance taxes and rebates.
Instead of considering your individual income, you'll need to look at your household income.
Medicare Levy Surcharge
Most Australian taxpayers pay a 2% Medicare Levy.
If you don't have eligible private health insurance, you could be subject to an additional tax, known as the Medicare Levy Surcharge.
The amount you pay as a married couple will depend on your household income.
Health insurance rebate
Now for some good news - government rebates may be available to subsidise the cost of your hospital and extras cover.
These rebates are based on your age, family status, and income level.
As a couple, you may be eligible for a rebate up to a combined household income of $280,000.
Shopping as a couple: Asking the right questions
Here are a few questions to keep in mind as you compare health insurance policies.
Couple's insurance is a convenient, cost-effective way for a married couple to manage their health insurance.
You'll only have to deal with one policy and one premium, plus enjoy the peace of mind that comes with knowing you're covered for private treatment.COMPARE & SAVE
This guide is opinion only and should not be taken as medical or financial advice. Check with a financial professional before making any decisions.