It seems that the older we get, the more we value our health. Regardless of how healthy you were as a young or even middle-aged adult, your senior years can present a new range of health concerns. Though Medicare is…
When Do I Need Health Insurance for Singles?
If you’re young, healthy, and single, health insurance might be the farthest thing from your mind. It’s probably not something you’ve had to think about, especially if you were on your parents’ insurance policy for most of your life.
Most young people can stay on their parents’ insurance policy until they turn 18; if you are a full time student, you can usually stay on it until your 25th birthday.
If you choose not to get health cover throughout your twenties, there’s a very good reason to do so before you turn 31: Lifetime Health Cover loading (LHC). This is a government incentive designed to encourage people to take out health cover at a younger age, and one we’ll discuss in detail further down.
There’s a misconception that singles health insurance is just for those in their 20s and 30s, but in reality it can apply to any age group. Because there are different levels of health cover available, you can choose a policy that suits your health requirements and life stage.
Who is Singles Health Insurance For?
This may come as a surprise, but you don’t have to be single to buy singles health cover. Even if you’re in a relationship, both parties can choose to hold two individual policies or a couples policy.
In fact, it can sometimes be cheaper to have two singles policies than a couples policy! However, if you have children, family cover is almost always the smartest option.
Health Insurance for Single Parents
The Australian public healthcare system is in place to ensure that all Australians have access to healthcare. However, with over 24 million of us in the country, it’s natural that Medicare can feel the strain.
Medicare can only cover you for treatments in public hospitals, and only covers costs in line with the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS). The schedule is a list of services that Medicare will cover, along with an established fee.
Medicare does not always cover 100% of the MBS, and doctors are not required to charge the amount suggested by the MBS.
If you’ve ever been to a bulk billing clinic and walked away without paying a cent, that doctor agrees to accept the Medicare benefit as full payment. If you visit a GP and pay some out of pocket fees, that doctor likely charges above the MBS.
Outside of the MBS, there are some services that Medicare simply isn’t able to cover, such as emergency ambulance transport or adult dental services.
|Service or Treatment||Covered by Medicare||Covered by Singles Insurance*|
|In-hospital treatment as a public patient in a public hospital|
|In-hospital treatment as a private patient in a private hospital|
|Adult dental care|
|New glasses or contact lenses|
|Emergency ambulance transport|
Private health cover gives you more options and takes pressure off of the public system. Because you do pay for private health care, you can expect a number of benefits in return.
Here are some examples of the services singles health cover can offer, depending on the type of policy you hold:
Unless you live in Queensland or Tasmania, your emergency ambulance services are not free. If you need an ambulance, you’ll receive a very large bill afterwards. Most singles insurance covers ambulance services, so your fund will take care of that bill.
Reduced wait time for elective surgeries
An elective surgery is something that can be booked in advance. These types of surgeries are usually classified based on urgency; if you are waiting for a non-urgent surgery, you could be waiting for a very long time.
Let’s say you’re an avid rugby player who has broken your nose one too many times. It’s getting tough to breathe clearly, so you’re in line for a septoplasty to fix your deviated septum.
If you are on the waiting list at a public hospital, your median waiting time is 210 days. Chances are, a private hospital could get you in much sooner.
What are My Options for Singles Health Insurance?
There are two main types of health cover: hospital and extras (also called ancillary). These two types of cover can also be packaged as combined cover. You may also be able to purchase a standalone ambulance cover policy.
Hospital cover is what you need for treatments and services you receive as a hospital inpatient. This covers you as a private patient in a private hospital, which gives you your choice of doctor as well. Most hospital cover includes emergency ambulance transport.
Most funds offer different levels of hospital cover, so you can choose a policy that suits your needs and budget. These levels aren’t standardised, so what’s offered by one policy may not be offered by another. It’s always a good idea to read the terms and conditions of a policy before assuming that something is covered.
Levels of hospital cover may include:
- Top level cover offers the most comprehensive range of benefits, and may or may not include pregnancy cover.
- Medium level cover is a solid option for those who want more than the basics but don’t need top offerings like obstetrics or joint replacement.
- Basic level cover is a good option for healthy people who just need the basics and want to avoid Lifetime Health Cover loading fees.
Extras cover really fills the gap that Medicare leaves, because it covers the services you use on a more regular basis. Extras cover may include the following:
- Optometry (including glasses or contact lenses)
- Chiropractic services
- Remedial massage
- Mental health services
- Occupational therapy
What About Waiting Periods?
If you’re getting health insurance for singles for the first time, waiting periods may apply for certain services or treatments. You’ll have to hold your insurance for a certain period of time before you can claim benefits.
The good news is that portability laws apply to hospital cover policies, so if you switch to a new policy at a later date you will not have to re-serve any waiting periods
Although there is no law in place for extras policies, many health funds will waive waiting periods when you switch to a new policy. However, this is at the discretion of the fund.
Financial Incentives to Get Singles Health Cover
There are a number of government incentives in place to encourage you to get health cover, even if you’re young and healthy. In fact, not having an appropriate level of health cover can cost you money at tax time. If you have health cover, you could actually get money back.
Lifetime Health Cover Loading (LHC)
If you do not hold eligible hospital cover by 1 July following your 31st birthday, loading fees will apply to your premium when you eventually do take it out.
You’ll face loading fees of 2% for each year you are aged over 30. So, someone who takes out hospital cover for the first time at age 35 will have to pay an additional 10% loading on top of their premium.
The loading is removed once you have held hospital cover for 10 consecutive years.
Medicare Levy Surcharge (MLS)
The MLS is an income-tested tax on high income earners who do not hold an eligible hospital policy. It applies to individuals who earn $90,000 or more and families who earn $180,000 or more.
You can avoid this tax by purchasing hospital cover.
Private Health Insurance Rebate
This is what you’ve been waiting for—the part where you get money back for having private health cover!
The government provides age and income-tested rebates on premiums for hospital, extras, and ambulance cover. Depending on your age and income, you could get a rebate of up to 33.887%.
This rebate can be claimed as a reduced premium through your health fund or on your annual tax return.
Ready to find a singles health insurance policy? Compare policies online to find a great deal on a policy with the benefits you’re looking for.