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:
Which health funds have special offers for family health insurance?
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:
- Australian Unity
- CBHS and CBHS Corporate Health
- Cessnock District Health (only during promotional periods)
- Defence Health
- GMHBA, Frank (GMHBA), Budget Direct (GMHBA)
- Health Care Insurance
- Health Partners
Mildura District Health (only at Mildura Private Hospital)
Nurses & Midwives Health
Queensland Country Health and Territory Health
Teachers Health and UniHealth
TUH Health Fund
Note: Police Health and Emergency Services Health offer only products without excess or co-payments for all their members.
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 policies (with some cover restrictions) do charge kids the excess – so check the fine print before you sign up.
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-up 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).
Note: Doctors Health, TUH and St.Lukes offer policies with a 100% benefit for all members on some treatments, for example, preventative or general dental.
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. 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.
While in principle it makes sense not to pay for cover that you won't be using, there are very few policies that only exclude pregnancy and fertility services without excluding things you may still need and those are often only a few dollars cheaper than full cover policies. Some are even more expensive than policies that cover everything.
There's another pitfall: a policy that restricts or excludes some procedures may add to its list of excluded or restricted procedures at any time.
So, unless you keep fully 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. Therefore, you tend to be better off with a 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.
More on health insurance