Singles health insurance: How much does it cost and should you get it?

TAMIKA SEETO
As a single person, you may have different health insurance needs to a couple, single parent or family. So it may be worthwhile considering a singles policy tailored specifically to your stage of life, general health, income and preferences.

Here we cover some options available to you, outline their average costs based on our data, and offer some tips to be aware of.


In this article we look at:


What is singles health insurance?

Singles health insurance is a policy that covers one person. It differs from couples and family health insurance policies, which cover multiple people.

Unlike a couples or family policy, where all people are covered for the same things, a singles policy can be chosen based on one person’s specific needs. If you are a couple, there is also the option to consider taking out two separate singles policies so that each policy can be tailored to each person’s needs and desired level of coverage.

What are the different types of singles health insurance policies?

There are three different types of health insurance:

  • hospital cover,
  • extras cover and
  • combined hospital and extras cover.

What is hospital cover?

Hospital cover allows you to be treated as a private patient in a private or public hospital and, in most cases, choose your own doctor. It can also cover some of the medical expenses involved when you are admitted to hospital. Hospital policies are offered in four main “tiers” (Gold, Silver, Bronze and Basic). Each tier must cover a minimum standard of treatments. Silver, Bronze and Basic tier policies can also include a “Plus” option and offer additional coverage above the minimum standard.

What is extras cover?

Extras cover helps cover the cost of other health services, such as dental, chiropractic, physiotherapy and optical (glasses and contact lenses). Unlike hospital cover, extras policies are not required to meet any “tier” requirements. Instead, coverage will depend on the policy and provider you select.

Is couples health insurance cheaper than singles health insurance?

There isn’t a big price difference between having a couples health insurance policy or having two singles policies, according to Canstar’s research on the average premiums for singles and couples.

However, it’s worth factoring in the private health insurance rebate. The rebate is income tested and different thresholds apply depending on whether you are a single or a family (including couples). For singles, your income must be $90,000 or less to receive the full rebate. For families, your combined income must be $180,000 or less for the full rebate.

How much does singles health insurance cost?

To give you an idea of costs, Canstar has calculated the average annual premiums for hospital and extras cover for singles at various different life stages, based on policies in our database at the time of writing:

Average annual health insurance premiums for singles

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Hospital Extras Hospital
& Extras
Young
(<36 yrs)
$1,651 $636 $2,214
Established
(36 – 59 yrs)*
$1,961 $636 $2,522
Mature
(60+ yrs)*
$2,159 $636 $2,756

Source: www.canstar.com.au. The Australian Government Private Health Insurance Rebate Base Tier for under 65s, of 24.608% has been applied to premiums. National average premiums based on state averages weighted by state population of insured persons. *Established profile based only on products that include hospital cover for Heart & Vascular, and Mature profile based only on products that include hospital cover for Heart & Vascular and Joint Replacements (not applicable for Extras products).  Ambulance Only and Visitors Extras policies excluded. 

The cost of hospital cover generally increases as you age, while the cost of extras cover generally stays the same, based on this analysis. In addition to your age, another factor that can influence the cost of private health insurance is where you live. We also calculated the average annual cost of hospital and extras cover for singles across Australia.

Average annual health insurance premiums – hospital & extras cover for singles

← Mobile/tablet users, scroll sideways to view full table → 

Young
(<36 yrs)
Established
(36 – 59 yrs)*
Mature
(60+ yrs)*
NSW $2,230 $2,531 $2,770
VIC $2,308 $2,634 $2,883
QLD $2,282 $2,603 $2,861
SA $2,160 $2,454 $2,634
WA $1,967 $2,251 $2,450
TAS $2,182 $2,491 $2,699
NT $1,607 $1,867 $2,014

Source: www.canstar.com.au. The Australian Government Private Health Insurance Rebate Base Tier for under 65s, of 24.608% has been applied to premiums. *Established profile based only on products that include hospital cover for Heart & Vascular. Mature profile based only on products that include hospital cover for Heart & Vascular and Joint Replacements.

Please note that these are average figures. The cost of private health insurance to you as an individual will depend on the fund you choose, the policy you select and the state you live in. Health insurance premiums also rise on average every year on 1 April.

As well as cost, it’s important to make sure a policy has the right level of coverage for you. It’s also worth checking whether any restrictions apply to coverage and reading the terms and conditions carefully before committing to a policy.

Should you get singles health insurance if you are young?

If you are tossing up whether to get health insurance, it could be worth considering some of the benefits of going private over public.

For example, with a private health insurance policy, you may be able to:

  • Skip hospital waiting lists
  • Get a private room
  • Select a doctor or surgeon of your choice
  • Claim rebates on some non-Medicare covered extras services (such as dental, optical, chiropractic and physiotherapy)

There may be other financial incentives to getting private health insurance too. These benefits mainly include:

  • Not paying Lifetime Health Cover loading: if you have not taken out a hospital policy by the time you turn 31 years old, you are charged a premium loading if you decide to take out cover in the future. You are charged an extra 2% on your premiums (up to 70%) for every year you are over 30.
  • Not paying the Medicare Levy Surcharge: a tiered charge is applied to Australian taxpayers who earn above a certain income and don’t have private hospital cover. According to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), this can be up to 1.5% for people on the highest income bracket.
  • Policy discounts: some health insurers offer young Australians aged between 18 and 29 a private health insurance discount. Insurers can offer a discount of 2% for every year before the person turns 30, up to a maximum discount of 10% if they first took out their policy aged 25 or younger.
  • Government rebates: you might be given a rebate for having private health insurance if you earn less than a certain threshold amount.

However, it’s also important to weigh up the potential drawbacks of getting private health insurance:

  • Cost: private health insurance can be expensive and premiums typically increase each year.
  • Out-of-pocket costs: private health insurance may only cover part of the cost of a treatment or procedure. This means you may still be out-of-pocket (however, this may be less than if you had no insurance in place).
  • Excluded treatments: policies may not cover every type of hospital treatment or procedure and some may be offered on a restricted basis.

If you’re happy to be treated as a public patient in a public hospital and don’t think you would make regular claims on extras services, you may decide you do not need private health insurance right now.

How to choose the best health insurance for singles

If you want to find the best singles health insurance for you, it’s important to compare your options and consider your own personal needs. As well as thinking about your life stage, you might also want to consider questions such as:

  • What level of hospital cover do you want (Gold, Silver, Bronze or Basic)?
  • Do you want extras cover? And what services do you want cover for?
  • Do you have any pre-existing conditions insurers need to be aware of?
  • What’s your budget for premiums and any excess you choose?

It’s important to look at more than price when choosing a health insurance policy. Cheaper policies might be tempting, but their level of cover can be less extensive and exclusions and restrictions can apply.

Canstar compares thousands of health insurance policies each year and considers both price and features. See who won Canstar’s latest Health Insurance Star Ratings and Awards.

Original article by William Jolly.

Cover image source: Olesya Kuznetsova/Shutterstock.com


Thanks for visiting Canstar, Australia’s biggest financial comparison site*

This content was reviewed by Digital Editor Amanda Horswill and Finance and Lifestyle Editor Shay Waraker as part of our fact-checking process.


Tamika covers personal finance for Canstar, specialising in banking and general insurance. She joined the team after completing a Bachelor of Journalism and Bachelor of Laws (Honours) at QUT. She has previously written for a range of news, music and arts publications.

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