Many health funds give special treatment to families with kids. Offers include:
- no excess or no co-payments for children if they need to go to hospital
- free extras services for children
- young adult students can stay insured on the family and single parent policy for free.
Couples with children often pay no more than couples without children, 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.
Which health funds have special offers for family health insurance?
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.
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.
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.
- 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.