Best health insurance for families

Compare family health insurance offers from Medibank, BUPA, HCF, HBF, NIB and more.

Who's thinking of the children?

Families with health insurance are drawing the long straw: they often pay not a dollar more than couples, which means kids are effectively insured for free.

But the same doesn't hold true for single parents: they pay more than singles, and some funds even charge single parents the same premium as two-parent families. Read more about health insurance for single parents.

For single and two-parent families alike, health funds give special treatment to kids. Offers include:

Our insurance experts are here to help you navigate the confusion with unbiased, expert advice: More advice on health insurance.

Which health funds have special offers for family health insurance?

Excess waivers

These funds told us they don't charge an excess or co-payment for children who need to go to hospital on some or all of their Family and Single parent policies:

  • AHM
  • Australian Unity
  • Bupa
  • CBHS and CBHS Corporate Health
  • Cessnock District Health (only during promotional periods)
  • CUA
  • Defence Health
  • GMHBA, Frank (GMHBA), Budget Direct (GMHBA)
  • HBF
  • HCF
  • Health Care Insurance
  • HIF
  • Health Partners
  • Medibank
  • Mildura District Health (only at Mildura Private Hospital)
  • MyOwn
  • Navy Health
  • NIB
  • Nurses & Midwives Health
  • Peoplecare
  • Phoenix
  • Police Health and Emergency Services Health offer only products without excess or co-payments for all their members.
  • Queensland Country Health and Territory Health
  • RT Health
  • St.LukesHealth
  • Teachers Health and UniHealth
  • TUH Health Fund
  • Westfund

Note: Last updated February 2018

You need to be careful though: some funds don't charge the excess/co-payment for kids on some policies but make them pay on others. Often cheaper Basic, Bronze and Silver policies (with some cover restrictions) do charge kids the excess – so check the fine print before you sign up. Find out more about Gold, Silver, Bronze and government health insurance reforms.

Free extras services

The funds listed below told us about special dental offers for kids on some of their policies, such as a free check-ups or mouthguard or, with optometry, a discount for glasses. These offers may not be available at all clinics and are often limited to "preferred providers" (see jargon buster below). These benefits also have annual limits (read more about dental costs).

  • Bupa
  • Medibank
  •  Doctors Health, TUH and St.Lukes offer policies with a 100% benefit for all members on some treatments, for example, preventative or general dental.

Note: last updated February 2018

Age limits for children on your health insurance policy

Most funds let you to keep your children on your policy until their 25th birthday if they're a full-time student, live with you and are not married or in a de-facto relationship.

The age limits vary for dependent children who aren't full-time students, for example, if they study part-time or work as an apprentice - so it pays to shop around if your product disclosure statement says your children are no longer insured on your policy.

Some funds also offer policies for families with dependent children who aren't full-time students for an additional cost.

Want to find out if you can save on health insurance? Take our Do I need health insurance quiz.

Things to think about once the kids have left home

Should you downgrade to a Couples policy?

As couples mostly pay the same for health insurance as families there's no real advantage to switching to a Couples policy.

However, as you both may have different needs, especially for extras services such as dental, optometry and physio, it may make sense to switch to two different Singles policies. Singles policies usually cost half as much as a Family or Couples policy. More about health insurance for singles and couples.

Should you downgrade to cover without pregnancy?

Whether or not to downgrade to a policy without pregnancy and fertility cover once you're finished having kids is not as simple a decision as it seems.

A few health funds offer Silver Plus policies without pregnancy, but before taking one out, make sure they are actually cheaper than the cheapest Gold policies and there aren't any other restrictions, for example many Silver Plus policies do not include cover for hip and knee replacements. And some Silver Plus policies with restrictions (such as no pregnancy cover) are even more expensive than Gold policies that cover all services covered by Medicare.

There's an added risk. If you downgrade your cover to cover without pregnancy, your policy may restrict some other treatments as well. 

Even though you might be happy to take out a policy that restricts conditions you think you won't need – for example, pregnancy, fertility treatment, sterilisation and gastric banding. keep in mind that with these kinds of policies, health funds can change – and add – to the procedures that they exclude or restrict.

So, unless you keep on track of all the material the fund sends you, and regularly check your policy, you might find yourself without cover for something you'll actually need. Which is why you might be better off with a Gold policy that covers everything, as funds are much less likely to add restrictions to those.

Jargon buster

  • Excess – an amount e.g. $500 you pay once per hospital stay. It usually applies once (single) or twice (couple and family) per year.
  • Co-payments – an amount e.g. $70 you pay per day in hospital. It's usually capped per hospital stay or per year.
  • Preferred providers – Health funds sign up dental practices or optical stores as part of their preferred provider network. Some clinics are even owned by the fund. Preferred providers may offer a discount to a health fund's members, or the health insurer may pay members higher benefits if they go to preferred providers. For example, instead of a set dollar benefit, the fund may pay a percentage benefit, such as 75% of the bill, which can result in lower out-of-pocket costs.

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