Singles health insurance provides individuals with the ability to access a broader range of healthcare services more quickly. It often enables policyholders to skip waiting lists and pay less for expensive elective surgeries, such as hip replacements and cataract extractions. Private health insurance also offers patients a choice of which hospital and doctor they are treated by, which is not the case in the public system.
In this article, we’ll discuss what the best health insurance for singles is and why it can be beneficial to have (especially at a younger age). Then, we’ll go over the types of policies, the expected costs, and some advice for choosing a provider.
What is Health Insurance for Singles?
Singles health insurance is specifically for an individual, which differs from health cover for families or couples. Depending on the policy, singles of any age can receive cover for in-hospital services, prescription medicines, dental care, optometrist appointments, psychologists and therapists, prostheses and ambulance callouts.
Surprisingly, you don’t actually have to be single to take out a singles health insurance policy. If you choose to, you and your partner could take out private health cover separately instead of opting for a couples policy.
As with any private health insurance, there are two main types of policies for singles. Hospital cover pays for treatment you receive in hospital. Depending on your policy, extras cover may include:
- Dental check-ups
- Remedial massage
- Psychologists and therapists
- Certain prostheses (those not included in hospital cover)
Since singles health insurance policies only cover one person, they can be more closely aligned with the individual’s specific healthcare needs. It can also help ease the transition from being on your parents’ policy to having your own health insurance.
Why Should I Get Health Insurance When I’m Young?
There are several benefits of taking out a health insurance policy at a younger age. While you can often remain on your parents’ policy until you turn 31, you will need to be a dependent. After you turn 31, you will need to pay Lifetime Health Cover loading.
LHC loading is a 2% fee that is designed to encourage Australians to take out private health insurance when they’re younger. For each year after you turn 31 that you don’t have hospital cover, an additional 2% is added to the loading charge. For example, if you take out your first policy when you’re 40, you’ll be stuck paying 20% higher premiums.
Additionally, waiting until you’re older to take out health insurance could mean you will be required to pay the Medicare Levy Surcharge, which is an initiative that encourages higher-income earners to switch to private health insurance. This differs from the Medicare Levy, which is a 2% tax paid by all Australians.
The Medicare Levy Surcharge only applies to individuals earning over $93,000 per year, and it’s an additional 1% to 1.5% of tax taken from your income. This can add up in the long run, so it’s generally a good idea to purchase eligible health cover while your income is lower. Most singles policies will help you avoid the surcharge.
What are the benefits of getting health insurance?
Private health insurance has a broad range of benefits compared to just relying on Medicare. This includes:
- Shorter waiting periods and faster access to treatment.
- Freedom to choose your preferred healthcare provider.
- The option of a private room for overnight stays (subject to availability).
Having private health insurance provides an extra level of financial security in the event of an unexpected illness or injury. While public healthcare does cover in-hospital services, there can be long and uncertain waits. Private policies give you greater control and choice over hospitals, doctors and specialists.
During overnight or long-term hospital stays, private healthcare will often give policyholders access to better rooms. You’ll also be covered for more services, such as dental surgery, optometrist appointments, physio, chiro and more.
Public hospitals have long waiting lists, especially for anything classified as an ‘elective surgery’. These include joint replacements, hernia repair, spinal fusions and ligament replacements. With private health coverage, you can avoid these waiting lists and have surgery at an earlier date with greater certainty. This can be hugely beneficial, especially if your injury is causing significant pain or risks further damage. Some waits in the public system can run into the years.
What Are the Types of Health Insurance for Singles and What Do They Cover?
There are several different types of health insurance available for singles, which makes it easy to find a policy that aligns with your needs. In addition to taking out individual policies, many people choose to take out a combined hospital and extras cover policy (which usually includes ambulance cover).
Basic hospital cover includes any in-hospital care that you require following an illness or injury. While Medicare does include in-hospital services, there is a lot more freedom and flexibility with private hospital insurance. Health insurers will cover some or all of the expenses associated with your stay in hospital and any surgery you require beyond what is covered by Medicare.
It gives policyholders the option to choose which doctors and specialists they receive treatment from, which can be a major benefit for many Australians considering making the switch to private. Additionally, health insurance offers choice of hospital, which can make it easier for families and visitors, as well as for the patient.
As a private patient with hospital cover, you can choose to be treated in a few different ways:
- As a private patient at a private hospital. Provided the service you are being treated for is covered by your policy, you will be able to avoid public hospital waiting lists and receive treatment from a doctor of your choice in a private hospital.
- As a private patient at a public hospital. You can choose to be treated as a private patient in a public hospital. This gives you a choice of doctor at the hospital of your preference, even if it is a public hospital. Sometimes the public hospital may be closest to where you live and having doctor of choice may allow for greater continuity of care.
- As a public patient at a public hospital. For certain healthcare services and hospital treatments you may want to be treated under Medicare. There is no obligation to use your health insurance in a public hospital, the choice is yours.
Private hospital policies cannot cover out of hospital Medicare services, such as GP visits or specialist consultations. It is also important to understand that there may still be out-of-pocket costs for hospital treatment, even with private hospital cover. Always call your health fund for a chat before selecting a specialist, when selecting a specialist ask if they charge out of pocket costs and remember, it is okay to negotiate on price and to shop around. Online sites like Medical Cost Finder and Healthshare can be a huge help.
Extras cover complements hospital cover by providing insurance for out-of-hospital health services. The types of care that are covered vary significantly from policy to policy, but some of the services that can be covered include:
- Hearing aids.
- Orthodontic services such as braces, plates and retainers.
- Prescription glasses and contact lenses.
- Physiotherapy, massage therapy and exercise physiology.
- Chiropractic, including any necessary x-rays and scans.
- Dental care, including any examinations, x-rays and common surgeries.
- Pediatric treatments and orthotics.
- Healthy lifestyle programs, such as quitting smoking, exercise or weight loss.
- Prescription medicines not covered by the PBS.
- Occupational therapy after a serious injury or illness.
- Speech therapy for both adults and children.
Extras cover policies place benefit limits on each of the different services, which defines the amount of spending that is handled by your private health cover for each specific treatment. Limits can be either a maximum dollar value or a percentage of the total costs of a service. Some health funds may have a combination of both types of limits.
While some extras cover include ambulance callouts as one of the services, some providers also list it as a separate health insurance policy. It’s quite a low-cost form of cover, usually starting at just a few dollars per week. Queensland and Tasmania are the only two states or territories that provide ambulance cover as part of the public health system.
Most concessions or Health Care Card holders can receive free ambulance transport, but the rest of Australia can be faced with expenses of well over a thousand dollars if they don’t have insurance. The breadth of coverage differs from policy to policy, with some covering only part of emergency callouts and others paying the full costs of all forms of emergency and non-emergency patient transport.
How Much Does it Cost?
The cost of the best health insurance for singles can be dependent on a variety of factors. Some providers will offer the option to increase your excess to result in a lower premium, so if you choose to do this it will also affect your health insurance costs.
Since there are so many different policies available, it is hard to give an average figure. Instead, let’s take a more detailed look at the factors affecting your health insurance costs:
- Age: Some health funds offer Age-based discounts (ABDs) for individuals who take out a health insurance policy between the ages of 18 and 29. This is to encourage those who can afford private cover to make the switch at a younger age. The discount is up to 10% off your normal premiums.
- Specific needs: While most private health insurance for singles includes similar services across providers, the services that are covered by extras policies can vary significantly. You need to think carefully about what you want to be covered for and, more importantly, what you don’t want to be covered for. While we always suggest taking out the highest level of cover you can afford, due to how unpredictable health is, the choice is ultimately yours.
- Insurance history: The way you take out policies when you are young affects how much you pay in total throughout your eligible years. If you remain with the public system after you turn 31, you will be required to pay Lifetime Health Cover (LHC) loading. This means your premiums will be 2% higher for every year that you don’t make the switch.
While it can be helpful to understand how singles health insurance costs are calculated, the best way to build an understanding of how much you can expect to pay is to get quotes for a broad range of policies that match your needs. Sometimes the best value policies are only available directly from the health fund. So to get the best available deal, pick up the phone and have a chat to the health insurance fund directly – even if you have received a quote from a broker or comparator service.
How Do I Choose the Best Singles Health Insurance?
For many singles, it can be a challenge to compare health insurance policies and find the best option for their individual needs. There are several factors to consider that make each of the health insurance providers a little bit different. Understanding these factors can help you find the perfect private health cover for your individual needs.
Let’s go over some of the factors that can help you compare health insurance policies:
- Benefits: Consider which benefits are most important to you and look for a policy that covers only the ones you need. This way, you will likely get the best value for the most affordable price but remember, it is difficult to predict future healthcare needs, even when you are young.
- Limits: Make sure to look at the limits offered by each plan. Consider your financial situation and how much of your medical expenses you would like covered when you make a claim.
- Costs: When looking at the singles health insurance cost, it can be helpful to think about whether you would prefer higher premiums and lower excess, or the other way around. You can also consider how much you would be willing to pay for these costs. Keep in mind that the cheapest health insurance may not always be the best for you.
- Waiting periods: This is the time between taking out your policy and when you can make your first claim. This can be particularly important to those wanting to use their hospital cover for pregnancy. It’s also usually a priority for those seeking treatments typically covered by extras cover.
- Discounts: Take a look at the different discounts that each policy offers. If you are young and taking out your first policy, you could be eligible for Age-Based Discounts (ABDs). Many insurance providers also offer sign-up discounts for new customers or first-time health insurance buyers.
- Rebates: There is a range of government rebates available to incentivise you to switch to private health insurance. Consider whether a policy entitles you to rebates and whether this is important to you.
Ultimately, the right singles health insurance for you will depend on your specific circumstances. It will be unique to you, so considering the various factors that differ between policies is important for anyone taking out a new policy.
Tips for Getting the Right Health Insurance
Before you even begin researching different health funds, spend some time thinking about what is important to you in a singles health insurance policy. Consider the level of care that you require, and how much you are willing to spend on excess and premiums. It might also be helpful to think about annual limits and whether you would prefer lower cost health insurance or health cover with better benefits.
Make sure to look at a broad range of options, including lesser-known providers. This will ensure you can be confident you have found the best possible policy for your needs. If there is anything you are unsure about, feel free to contact the policy provider and ask your questions. It’s better to be confident than to accidentally take out a policy that isn’t suitable.
Find the best health insurance for you
Whether you are single or in a relationship and looking to separate your insurance from your partner, now is a great time to compare policies and take out health insurance. Switching to private coverage at a younger age will ensure you get the best value for the rest of your life.
If you’re ready to find a health insurance policy that suits you, get in touch with one of our member funds.