Cheap health cover - members only

Restricted membership health insurance funds deliver top policies at lower prices – and you may be able to join one.
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01 .Open and closed health insurance

closed health funds

The biggest downside to restricted health funds is that you may not be able to become a member - aside from that, they offer some of the best health insurance deals on the market. While anyone can join the open health funds we surveyed in our health insurance survey, restricted funds cater to a specific industry or group. Membership is usually restricted to people who work in that industry and their families, but can also include former employees.

Even if your situation changes and you stop fulfilling the normal eligibility criteria for a restricted health insurance fund – you may change jobs or no longer qualify as a dependent – once you’ve joined a restricted health fund, you can usually retain your membership.

We’ve looked at five restricted membership health insurance funds, including three of the largest restricted membership funds – Teachers Health, Defence Health and CBHS (Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) group employees) – and their direct competitors Teachers Union Health (TUH) and Navy Health.

We found they hold up well against our Best Buys for open funds. With premium policies, restricted funds provide the same cover for a lot less money.


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...without top-level rates

Our results show that if you’re eligible to join a restricted health fund, it’s worth comparing your current policy against their offer. For a family with top hospital insurance without an excess in NSW, for example, CHBS’s premium is $482 per year less (before the rebate) than GMF and Medibank (which CHOICE rated as this year’s cheapest open fund Best Buy for mature singles and couples).

Potential savings depend on the type of policy you’re interested in and your personal circumstances. Top cover policies with $0 excess offer the greatest savings.


Another reason to check out restricted membership funds is their solid track record of satisfied members. In our 2012 survey, Teachers Health, Defence Health and CBHS all had significantly better member satisfaction for their hospital and extras cover than open funds.

CBHS was the best-rated fund, with 88% member satisfaction in hospital cover and 87% in extras cover. Hirmaa, the industry association for all restricted membership funds and some regional funds, has conducted its own survey with similar results. “We’re very confident hirmaa funds have much higher satisfaction rates than the bigger open funds,” says chief executive Ron Wilson.


ACA – Seventh-day Adventist Church employees

CBHS – CBA group

Defence Health – Defence community

Doctors’ Health Fund – Doctors and health practitioners

Health Care Insurance – Forestry, timber and paper industries and contractors

Navy Health – Defence community

Phoenix – OneSteel & associated companies

Police – NT, Qld, SA, Tas and WA police

Railway and Transport – Transport and electricity

Reserve Bank – Reserve Bank and Note Printing Australia employees

Teachers Health – Education union members

Transport Health – Transport industries

TUH – Education sector

For more information about their policies, see

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