Among the changes that marriage brings are decisions that must now be made as a couple, including those around the selection of private health insurance. While this is a choice which has a number of benefits, it can also come with risks, particularly for couples above 30 years old, where either or both parties have never previously held private health insurance.
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One Policy, With One Premium
While the financial cost of joint health insurance is often comparable to the combined premiums each spouse would pay for individual cover, the former option allows the ease of having to manage only one policy and payment. This option also ensures that each spouse receives the same level of cover and access to identical benefits. In a market with such a variety of insurance products, this helps to minimize confusion for couples as, without joint cover, it can be common for spouses to find themselves with unequal levels of hospital benefits or extras cover.
Equal Level of Cover
Depending on their chosen policy, couples are able to enjoy cover at an equal level to that offered with individual health insurance. However, checking for products which offer a combined annual limit for each benefit is paramount, and couples should also determine whether these limits are sufficient for the needs of each party.
While portability rules ensure that, providing the level of hospital cover does not exceed what each spouse held previously, waiting periods do not need to be re-served in order to receive hospital benefits, these rules are not applicable to general or extras cover. Nonetheless, some insurers are willing to set aside waiting periods following transition from single to couples cover, providing the cover chosen is of a similar level.
Increased Health Insurance Rebates
Age, income and family status can all effect the health insurance rebate offered by The Australian Government. Couples could potentially be eligible for an increased rebate, which may come in the form of a lower monthly insurance premium, or could be applied to their tax assessment.
Points to Remember When Switching to Couples Health Insurance
Waiting Periods for Pregnancy Benefits Can Still Apply
Prior to making pregnancy benefits available, the majority of private health insurers have a 12-month waiting period. In a situation where neither spouse’s previous policy had included pregnancy benefits, this waiting period would be applicable, even when transitioning to couples health insurance. This should certainly be a key point of consideration for newly married couples with plans to start a family in the near future.
Lifetime Health Cover (LHC) Loading
If either spouse is aged 30 or above and has not previously taken out any type of private health insurance in Australia, hospital cover will incur an increased cost, even under a couples policy. This is due to Lifetime Health Cover (LHC) loading, which applies without exception where private health insurance has not been held before the age of 30.
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