For many Australians, life truly begins in your 50s. Maybe you’ve reached the pinnacle of your career, raised a family and seen them start off on their own journeys, or you’re now financially stable enough to enjoy all the things you wanted to in previous years.
While you’re focusing on getting the most out of your life, it’s also important to have the right health insurance in place to cover your body’s needs as you get older, as well as keeping healthcare affordable for your family. .
The good news is that finding health insurance for anyone over 50 doesn’t have to cost top dollar – here’s what you need to know about getting a good deal.
According to Compare Club’s experts, most over 50s choose either Bronze or Silver hospital cover.
Health insurers can now offer policies that allow you to keep your adult children on a family policies until they turn 31.
Pre-existing conditions won’t affect the cost of your cover, but you may need to serve a waiting period of up to 12 months on them before you can make a claim… unless you’re switching from an equivalent cover.
How much does health insurance cost for over 50s?
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to health insurance. That means it’s up to you to choose your insurer, your level of hospital cover (Gold, Silver, Bronze or Basic), and any extras you want.
The price will depend on what type of cover you select, as well as the state you live in.
To get the most out of your cover, it’s a good idea to focus on the level that you’ll need in the future – instead of what you need right now.
You can choose from multiple levels of cover and hospital excess, and a range of extras. That means you could see large price gaps between the different policies.
A Gold tier health policy with no excess, for example, could cost anywhere between $480 and $546 per month*, compared to a Silver Plus policy with $250 excess that starts from $321 to $414** per month.
What level of hospital cover do Australians over 50 need?
This is where you can be very savvy with your budget. The type of cover obviously depends on your own health needs and that of your family, but there are some smart ways to stay covered for what you need without overpaying.
Bronze and Basic hospital cover will naturally end up being much cheaper, but you won’t be covered for some of the more common medical procedures, such as heart disease.
That doesn’t mean you need to buy top tier Gold cover though.
Ultimately, you’ve got to weigh up what treatments you need or might need in the future. The savings you might get from paying lower premiums might not be worth it if you have to pay for an expensive procedure out of pocket down the road.
You might also want to keep your adult kids on your family policy so they’re still covered. So is there such a thing as the right cover for somebody aged 50 or above? On a very general level, our specialists at Compare Club find that most over 50s tend to opt for some form of Silver hospital cover .
Silver health insurance includes items such as:
Lung and chest surgery
Treatment for back, neck and spine issues (e.g. sciatica and scoliosis)
Some over 50s often ask us about Gold policies. These top tier - and top dollar - policies cover all the above and more, such as joint replacements and cataracts.
But Gold policies also come with items such as pregnancy, IVF and weight loss.
Many funds offer Silver Plus policies specifically for over 50s that include most items you’d expect from a Gold policy but without pregnancy and IVF.
There are also some Bronze Plus policies that may meet your needs for a much cheaper price tag.
That said, if you’re planning on starting a family later in life, there’s also Silver Plus policies designed for would-be parents.
Ultimately, it’s about whatever best fits you. Once you have a good idea of what you’ll need over the next 12 months, it makes it a lot easier to hone in on a suitable policy.COMPARE & SAVE
What pre-existing conditions impact the cost of health insurance for over 50s in Australia?
Pre-existing conditions don't affect the cost of your premiums, but they can add an additional waiting period of 12 months onto your cover for a pre-existing condition, if you haven’t had cover before..
This means you won’t be able to claim on any procedures or treatments until after that waiting period has been served… unless you’re switching from an equivalent cover.
Some common pre-existing conditions for over 50s in Australia include:
Hypertension (high blood pressure)
If you’ve got a pre-existing condition, speak to our specialists. They’ll find a fund on our panel that offers a waiver for waiting periods already served.
How does Lifetime Health Cover loading impact health insurance for over 50s?
Lifetime Health Cover Loading (LHC) is a Government legislated premium loading that is applied to your private hospital cover if you take out a hospital policy after the 1 July following your 31st birthday.
If you don’t take out hospital cover before you turn 31, a 2% loading fee is added for each year you go without hospital cover. The loading is applied for ten years after you’ve taken out hospital cover.
LHC can make health insurance expensive if you’ve never held hospital cover before, but taking out a Basic tier hospital policy will stop additional loading fees from being applied.
Basic policies aren’t always great value for money. Many of them give you ambulance cover plus a few other restricted services, so it’s worth seeing how they stack up cost-wise against Bronze tier policies.
However, if you want to stop your LHC loading rising and help you avoid the Medicare Levy Surcharge while you work out exactly what you want from your cover, it can work as a stop-gap policy.
When you use Compare Club to find health insurance, our experts will make sure we cut every last cent from your premiums.
We may not be able to remove LHC loading, but we can ensure you’re not paying an inflated price just because you’re new to the market.COMPARE & SAVE
Should I keep my adult children on my health insurance?
Josh Frydenberg confirmed that from the 1st of April 2021, parents would be able to keep their adult children on their family’s health insurance policy until the age of 31¹. At the time of writing, no health fund has offered this option.
While the health insurers work out how to factor these changes into their current policies, you can learn more about covering your adult kids on your family policy here.
If you’re not sure whether it’s cheaper or not to keep your children on your policy, we’ve done the maths for you. (Disclaimer: This is an indicative example only)
For example, if you have Silver Plus hospital and medium extras cover with $250 excess, as a family the policy may cost $6,548.07 in annual premiums, whereas as a couple (i.e. removing your children from the policy) it would cost $6,345.41***.
That’s just $202.66 in savings a year, and your adult children will have to take out their own hospital and extras cover at a much higher cost.
Ultimately, it’s about what fits you and your kids. You may both decide that they’ll be better off going it alone on low cost cover, or you may decide to keep them on as long as possible so you’re not having to pay high out-of-pocket dental fees. It’s entirely up to your situation.
How can I keep the cost of my health insurance low?
The most important point to remember when looking for good-value health insurance is that you need to be clear on exactly what you need now that you’re over 50.
If you’re having trouble finding a policy that works for you, Compare Club’s specialists can help. There’s a lot of difference between different policies, which is why Compare Club does the hard work so you don’t have to.
We’ll also help you regularly stay on top of any moves the health funds make and we can help you switch if you spot a better deal from our panel of insurers.COMPARE & SAVE
This guide is opinion only and should not be taken as medical or financial advice. Check with a professional before making any decisions.
*Pricing based on a Gold Hospital Cover + Medium Extras AHM policy and a Gold Hospital Cover + High Extras AHM policy with no excess for a 55 year old couple with a combined annual income of $180,000 or less with the government rebate of 24.608% applied.
**Pricing based on a Silver Plus Hospital Cover + Medium Extras HCF policy and a Silver Plus Hospital Cover + High (Top) Extras with $250 excess for a 55 year old couple with a combined annual income of $180,000 or less with the government rebate of 24.608% applied.
***Pricing based on NIB Silver Advantage Hospital Plus with Core Boost and Wellbeing Extras for a couple and a family living in NSW with a combined annual income of $180,000 or less with the government rebate of 24.608% applied. ****Pricing based on AHM Starter Bronze Hospital and Medium Extras for a single person living in NSW with an annual income of under $90,000 with the government rebate of 24.608% applied.
1. Australian Department of Health, Private Health Insurance - Increasing the age of dependents, written October 2020