Private Health Insurance for Single Parents

This guide will help you understand the ins and outs of single parent policies and show how you could save time and money in finding the right cover.

by Gary Andrews

Last update 15 Apr 2021

Overview

Being a single parent often comes with a tight budget.

Given that 90% of Australian single mothers say they're concerned about their long-term financial wellbeing, it's understandable that our sole parent families want to make every dollar count on their health insurance.

So, how can parents find suitable and affordable health insurance for their family while juggling all the responsibilities that come with solo parenting?

This guide will help you understand the ins and outs of single parent policies and show how you could save time and money in finding the right cover.

Key Points

If you're a single parent, you could pay less on private health insurance premiums than you would with traditional family health cover.
It can be more cost efficient to pick a policy based on your family's needs rather than the cheapest cover.
Single parents who earn over $180,000 can avoid the Medicare Levy Surcharge by taking out eligible hospital cover.
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Do I need health insurance as a single parent?

All parents know that health care, accidents and expenses like dental check-ups and glasses are part and parcel of having children.

Having the right health insurance can help you avoid health costs not covered by Medicare and manage your finances more predictably throughout the year.

There are a number of potential benefits to buying a specific single parent policy:

Avoid paying the Medicare Levy Surcharge

If your eligible annual income is over $180,000, you can avoid paying the Medicare Levy Surcharge by taking out private health cover.

If you have two or more dependent children, the family income threshold is increased by $1,500 for each dependent child after the first child.

Take advantage of the private health insurance rebate

If your eligible annual income is below $280,000, you may be eligible for a tax rebate on your health insurance premiums.

Choose your treatment provider

With certain levels of private hospital cover you can choose your doctor or surgeon, even if you or your child is being treated as a private patient in a public hospital.

Get a private hospital room

If you or your child needs to stay in hospital, you could be able to request a private room depending on your policy.

Avoid waiting lists

In 2018-2019, 50% of patients waited at least 41 days for elective surgeries (such as tonsil removal) in a public hospital and there is currently a significant elective surgery backlog due to the pandemic restrictions earlier in 2020. With private health insurance, you and your child may be able to reduce the wait for elective surgeries.

Are there specific single parent health insurance plans?

Yes! Single parent health insurance policies are designed to provide cover for you and your dependent children for treatment received outside the public healthcare system.

There are two main types of health cover for single parents and their children:

Hospital cover

This covers you and your children if you're treated as a private patient in a public or private hospital.

Hospital cover typically includes things like in-hospital treatment by a doctor you choose, hospital accommodation and operating theatre fees.

There are four tiers of hospital cover: Gold, Silver, Bronze and Basic cover.

Many funds will also offer Bronze Plus and Silver Plus policies.

These are packages that include several services that are usually found in a higher tier of coverage.

These policies can be useful if you want to make sure you're not paying for items that you won't use -- such as cataracts -- but you'll need to take time to make sure they're offering you real value for money.

This is something the specialist team at Compare Club can help with.

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Extras cover

Extras cover provides cover for the cost of non-hospital services that aren't covered by Medicare.

Common treatments include:

  • Dental check-ups
  • Orthodontics
  • Glasses and contact lenses
  • Physiotherapy
  • Non PBS pharmaceutical costs
  • Podiatry
  • Speech therapy
  • Chiropractic treatment
  • Professional diet and nutrition services
  • Pre- and post-natal treatment
  • Pre- and post-natal treatment

You can choose extras cover on its own or combined with hospital cover.

Extras cover can be cost effective if you have children who are likely to need dental, orthodontic or optical treatment in future.

Keep an eye out for funds who offer significant rebates back on extras like dental treatments for children or glasses.

Getting a good rebate and a healthy annual limit on these extras will help to reduce any out-of-pocket costs.

That's why it's a good idea to compare options from different health funds, and review your level of cover regularly if you already have extras for you and your family.

What's the difference between a family policy and a single parent policy?

In terms of cover, there isn't a big difference between a family policy and single parent policy, except that health insurance for single parents is designed to cover one adult only and one or more dependent children.

When it comes to cost though, there are potential upsides to having a single parent policy rather than a family policy and some health funds offer reduced premiums for single parents.

What should a single parent look for in a policy?

In short, it depends on you and your children's circumstances.

There's no one-size-fits-all policy, so it's important to look at exactly what's covered and whether it applies to your situation.

If, for example, you have children who are likely to need braces or glasses in future, it might make sense to choose a policy with extras cover for treatments like orthodontics and optical services.

Also keep in mind that some health funds offer special benefits for children.

Common benefits include:

There are a lot of options out there, which is why it makes sense to compare policies from multiple health funds to find one that's right for you.

It can be a time-consuming process, which is why the team at Compare Club can quickly compare single parent policies from our panel to find cover that suits you.

Whatever your situation, remember most health insurance policies have a waiting period when you first join health insurance -- ranging from several months to 12 months or more -- that you'll need to serve before you can make a claim.

So if you or your child might need a particular treatment in the future, it could be a good idea to get private health insurance sooner rather than later to avoid being hit with out-of-pocket costs on top of paying for a policy.

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Do single parents pay less for health insurance?

Sometimes. Since 2007, health funds in Australia have been able to offer single parents reduced premiums in comparison to the traditional family rate.

So if you're a single mum or dad, you might be able to pay lower premiums for a single parent policy than you would for a family policy.

Comparing policies is one of the best ways to find out which health funds offer the best value for single parents in general, and for your situation.

What private health insurance rebates are available for single parents?

Single parents with private health insurance may be eligible for a rebate on premiums.

If you haven't claimed the rebate through reduced premiums throughout the year, you may be able to claim it as a tax offset.

In these cases, the rebate is calculated as a percentage of the cost of your premiums and claimed as a tax offset by reducing the amount of tax payable on your taxable income.

The rebate amount is calculated based on your age and household income.

health insurance rebates single parents

health insurance rebates single parents

How can I find the best health insurance for single parents?

Every family's needs are different and there's no 'best' policy for every situation.

As a single parent, it makes sense to look for private health cover that offers the best value for your circumstances.

Rather than opting for the cheapest option, a policy that covers the specific treatments you and your children need today and in the future could end up saving you more money in the long run.

In any case, it's important to review your health cover regularly to make sure you're getting good value for your money as your family's needs change.

Thinking about buying single parent health insurance?

You can quickly and easily compare policies online or by speaking to one of our experts.

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ATO, Income thresholds and rates for the private health insurance rebate, December 2020.\ Council of Single Mothers and their Children, One in eight families, November 2019.

This guide is opinion only and should not be taken as medical or financial advice. Check with a financial professional before making any decisions.