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Free health cover for young adults on a family policy

You can insure your adult children on your health insurance policy, but conditions apply.

young adult with parent looking at a computer
Last updated: 01 June 2022
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Fact-checked

Checked for accuracy by our qualified fact-checkers and verifiers. Find out more about fact-checking at CHOICE.

Need to know

  • Health insurers are now allowed to cover young adults on their family's policy up to age 31
  • Some smaller funds have increased the age cap for family policies from 24 to 31, and others are expected to follow later this year 
  • Whether it makes financial sense to stay on your parents' policy depends on your health needs (and the needs of your parents)

With Australians feeling the pinch as the cost of living increases, many young adults are still living with their parents and now they can stay on the family health insurance policy.

As of 2021, the government has increased the age cap for adult children on their parents' policy from 24 to 31. At the same time, the age limit was removed for dependents living with disability (NDIS participants).

Do all health funds cover young adults on family policies?

The changes are not mandatory for private health funds and so far only a few funds have increased their age limits. Health insurers can also set different age limits – while one fund may allow young adults on family policies up to age 28, another may allow them up to 31.

Funds also have different conditions on dependents they allow on family policies. Normally you cannot be married or in a de facto relationship, but with some insurers you also need to live with your parents, be financially dependent, or the insurer sets a cap on how much you can earn. 

It's best to check with your fund and make sure you understand the rules.

What the big five health funds cover

So far Bupa, Medibank, HBF, HCF and NIB have not extended their age limits for adult children on family policies, but here's what they do cover.

Bupa covers:

  • adult children on your family policy for free until they turn 21
  • full-time students on family policies for free until they turn 25
  • any adult children younger than 25 on extended family policies for an extra cost.

HBF covers:

  • adult children on your family policy for free until they turn 21
  • full-time students on family policies for free until they turn 25
  • other adult children who earn less than $24,500 per year for free until they turn 25.

HCF covers:

  • adult children on your family policy for free until they turn 22
  • full-time students on family policies for free until they turn 25
  • any adult children younger than 25 on extended family policies for an extra cost.

Medibank covers:

  • adult children on your family policy for free until they turn 21
  • full-time students on family policies for free until they turn 25
  • any adult children younger than 25 on extended family policies for an extra cost.  

NIB covers:

  • adult children on your family policy for free until they turn 21
  • full-time students on family policies for free until they turn 25
  • any adult children younger than 25 on extended family policies for an extra cost. 

Funds that cover adult children aged 25 and over

There are currently nine private health funds that cover young adults on family policies:

Will it save you money?

While children and full-time students up to age 24 can often stay on the normal family policy for free, there would usually be a cost to keep older dependents and non-students on the family policy – depending on the insurer, this could add up to 30% to your premium. Given that a single policy usually costs 50% of a family policy, that is definitely a saving.

The main questions you need to ask yourself are: do I need health insurance? And does my parents' cover meet my needs?

  • Older adults may have chronic health conditions or need cover for knee replacement or cataract eye surgery, which is only available through expensive Gold-tier health insurance policies.
  • Healthy young adults may only need Bronze cover, which includes cover for broken bones, flu, and skin and breast cancer.
  • If you only need dental check-ups and a few physio sessions now and then, extras cover may not be worth your while.

How much does it cost to add your adult kids to your family policy?

Case study: Family cover in Tasmania with HCI

HCI was one of the first health funds to introduce the changes in late 2021, so let's look at the difference between their family and extended family policies.

  • Young adults up to the age of 22 can be insured on their parents' normal family policy for free.
  • Young adults aged between 23 and 31 can be insured on an extended family policy for an extra cost.

Cost of Gold cover with $750 excess combined with Premier Extras cover*:

  • $6234 (family)
  • $7481 (extended family).

Conditions:

  • young adults must be primarily reliant on their parents for maintenance and support – they cannot have a spouse or de facto partner. 
  • full-time students aged between 23 and 31 must make a student declaration each year
  • non or part-time students aged between 23 and 31 must live with their parents.

*Premium prices are without the health insurance rebate.

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