Which health funds are offering financial relief during COVID-19?

In response to the ongoing coronavirus crisis, a number of Australian health funds are offering extended coverage and financial relief packages to members who are experiencing financial difficulty.

Most health insurers have delayed their annual premium increases, normally scheduled for 1 April, by at least six months for all customers. This means most people’s premiums will not increase until around 1 October this year, at the earliest. Most funds are also extending coverage for all members with hospital cover (regardless of their tier of cover) to include COVID-19 related hospitalisations.

Some health insurers are offering additional relief to members who are experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19. For example, some insurers are offering premium discounts, while others are allowing customers to suspend their health cover for a certain period of time. It’s important to remember that you generally won’t receive any cover for expenses you incur while your policy is suspended, unless otherwise stated.

Here’s a roundup of some of the relief options available at the time of writing from some of the health insurers in Canstar’s database. For more information, including the terms, conditions and eligibility requirements of any particular offer, please check with the insurer directly. If your insurer is not listed below, it could still be worth contacting them directly and seeing what options are available to you.

Provider Coronavirus financial relief
AAMI Existing customers (as at 26 March 2020) who are experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19 may be eligible to suspend their cover for up to six months.

All customers have had their premium increase postponed until 1 October 2020. Customers with hospital cover (all levels) have had coverage expanded to include treatment related to COVID-19.

ahm  Customers on JobKeeper and JobSeeker support can receive a 50% discount on their premiums for up to six months.

Customers who are not receiving government support payments but are financially impacted by COVID-19 and are living in an area declared a state of disaster (currently Victoria) will also be able to apply for a 10% discount on their premium for three months.

Customers who are financially impacted may also have the option of suspending their policy for up to three months.

All customers have had their premium increase postponed until 1 October 2020. Customers with hospital cover (all levels) have had their coverage expanded to include chest, heart, lung and kidney admissions, including those related to COVID-19.

Apia Members who are experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19 may be eligible to suspend their health cover for up to six months.

Apia has suspended its premium increase until at least 1 October 2020 for all customers. Members with hospital cover have also had their coverage expanded to include treatment related to COVID-19 at no additional cost.

Australian Unity Premium increase has been postponed from 1 April 2020 for at least six months. Members with hospital cover will be covered for hospital admissions related to COVID-19 until at least 31 March 2021.
Bupa All customers have had their premium increase delayed to 1 October 2020. Customers on JobKeeper and JobSeeker support can have their premium increase deferred for another six months to 1 April 2021.

Customers experiencing financial hardship can also apply to suspend their policy for three months.

All customers with hospital policies are covered for lung and chest conditions, including those arising from COVID-19 related claims.

CBHS Eligible members experiencing financial difficulties because of COVID-19 can access up to six months of free cover on a hospital or combined hospital and extras product. After this time, members can suspend cover for 3-24 months.

All members have had their premium increase deferred to 30 September 2020. Members with COVID-19 will have some cover for chest, heart, lung and kidney hospital admissions, regardless of their level of hospital cover.

CUA Members experiencing financial difficulty or loss of income due to COVID-19 can ask to suspend their policy and premium payments for three months by getting in touch with CUA.

CUA has delayed its 1 April 2020 premium increase for six months. It will also cover members with hospital cover for all in-hospital COVID-19 treatment, provided they have held their policy for at least two months.

Frank Health Insurance Members experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19 may be able to suspend their cover for up to 12 months.

Frank has postponed its 1 April premium increase for at least six months. Members with hospital cover will also be covered for COVID-19 related hospitalisations.

GMHBA Members who are experiencing financial hardship as a result of COVID-19 may be able to suspend their membership for up to 12 months. GMHBA says it may also waive the minimum suspension period for these members, which would mean members could choose to reactivate their cover at any time.

GMHBA has also postponed its 1 April premium increase for at least six months. Members with hospital cover will also be covered for COVID-19 related hospitalisations.

HBF If you are experiencing financial hardship and are receiving JobSeeker, you may be able to suspend your policy for up to 15 months, if you’ve been an HBF member for at least a year. If you have been an HBF member for over three years, you may be able to receive up to nine months of complimentary cover.

If you are not receiving JobSeeker, you may be eligible to suspend your policy for up to six months, if you have been an HBF member for at least a month.

HBF has cancelled its 2020 premium increase and will not be increasing premiums until 1 April 2021. HBF will also pay benefits towards chest, heart, lung and kidney hospital admissions related to any COVID-19 treatment for all customers with eligible hospital cover until 31 December 2020.

HCF If you were a member before 31 March 2020, have an eligible hospital or hospital and extras policy and have become unemployed or stood down through no fault of your own, HCF will pay your premiums for up to six months.

HCF has postponed its premium increase until at least 1 October 2020. HCF has also extended hospital policies to cover “all COVID-19 related hospital claims” until 30 September 2020.

HIF Members who are struggling financially due to COVID-19 may be able to suspend their policy for between two and 12 months, and they will not need to re-serve waiting periods once membership is reinstated.

HIF has also postponed its premium increase until 1 October 2020. Members with hospital cover will also be eligible for treatment resulting from COVID-19 at no extra cost.

Latrobe Health Services Latrobe Health Services postponed its premium increase until 1 October 2020.

All coronavirus-related hospital admissions for chest, heart, lung and kidney will be included in members’ hospital cover until 1 October 2020.

Latrobe has also waived excesses and waiting periods for Coronavirus-related hospital admissions.

Medibank Customers on JobKeeper and JobSeeker support can receive a 50% discount on their premiums for up to six months.

Customers who are not receiving government support payments but are financially impacted by COVID-19 and are living in an area declared a state of disaster (currently Victoria) will also be able to apply for a 10% discount on their premium for three months.

Customers who are financially impacted may also have the option of suspending their policy for up to three months.

All customers have had their premium increase postponed until 1 October 2020. Customers with hospital cover (all levels) have had coverage expanded to include chest, heart, lung and kidney admissions, including those related to COVID-19.

Nib Existing members who are experiencing financial hardship may be eligible for premium relief, including suspending their policy for up to six months.

Nib has postponed its premium increase until 1 October 2020. It has also expanded cover for coronavirus-related hospital treatment and psychology extras benefits for eligible members.

Suncorp Existing members (as at 26 March 2020) who are experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19 may be eligible to suspend their health cover for up to six months.

Suncorp has suspended its premium increase until 1 October 2020. Coverage for COVID-19 related treatment has also been expanded for all members with hospital cover, even those who suspend their policy temporarily due to financial hardship.

Source: Providers’ websites as at 25 August 2020. Contact your insurer directly for the details of its hardship package, including any eligibility criteria that may apply.

If you’re considering cancelling your health insurance cover, it’s important to understand that you will not be covered for urgent treatments and surgeries in a private hospital. You would instead need to go through the public Medicare system or pay for the full cost at a private hospital. There’s also potential financial implications such as the Lifetime Health Cover loading and the Medicare Levy Surcharge that may apply if you no longer have the necessary cover in place.

If you’re looking for ways to cut down on your household expenses, you may want to consider comparing your health insurance options to see if you can find a better deal that suits your needs.

If you’re comparing health insurance policies, the table below displays some of the hospital and extras policies currently available on Canstar’s database for a 30-year-old single female seeking cover in NSW without pregnancy cover. Please note the table is sorted by Star Rating (highest to lowest), followed by provider name (alphabetical). Use Canstar’s health insurance comparison selector to view a wide range of policies.

You might also be interested in the following articles:

As with all our content, Canstar’s Coronavirus coverage will always be free for our readers.

This article was reviewed by our Sub-Editor Tom Letts and Finance Editor Sean Callery before it was published, as part of our fact-checking process.

Image source: LightField Studios (Shutterstock).

Share this article