When you have a family, comparing health funds can be more complex than as a single person seeking individual cover. See below for an overview for what to look out for when you are considering taking out cover for your household.
The good news is that many funds will cover younger children for free or a very small fee, and some will cover them up to the age of 25 if they are still studying full time. Some will also offer free extras for children, which can be very handy if you need mouthguards or glasses. These will often be at select or preferred providers, but will save money.
Another way to use health insurance in your favour when you have a family is to set a higher excess payment which is payable for stays in private hospitals. This will mean that your monthly premium will be lower and if you select a health fund that offers no excess or co-payments for hospital stays for children, this will translate to real savings. Excess, therefore, is only charged if you or your partner elect to stay in a private hospital. The no excess for kids offer is generally valid on higher levels of cover rather than basic, cheaper policies.
Another factor to be mindful of is holidaying. When you’re travelling you are advised to purchase additional travel insurance in order to be covered for delays, cancellations and other unforeseen issues as well as health. In this instance, you’ll want to contact your regular fund and temporarily suspend your cover so you are not paying double premiums while you are away. Note than some funds will have minimum and maximum suspension periods and the onus will be on you to reactivate cover once you return from travel.
Tax wise, it also makes sense to have health insurance as a family as you will increase your chances of being eligible for a private health insurance rebate from the government. As the rebate is means tested, the income you receive will determine how much you can get back. For families, if you have eligible private health insurance (including hospital cover) the base tier you can reach before the rebate begins to be reduced is doubled. Also, an additional $1,500 is added to the rebate’s income threshold for each child and single parents with dependants are also assessed under the family threshold category. You can either get this rebate delivered as a tax offset, or like the majority of people, you can receive it via your health fund in the form of reduced premiums.
The final thing to look out for in health insurance is the inclusion of any additional family services. These may be in the form of childbirth and early parenting classes or support networks, healthy lifestyle apps and online resources. Whilst they may not make you select a fund on their own, they could help you make a decision regarding your health cover if you’re tossing up between a few similar products.