We’ve partnered with Compare Club to bring you a range of health insurance policies to help you compare them side by side.
The waiting periods that initially come with new or upgraded health insurance policies are designed to keep premium costs down for everyone. Are you a bargain hunter thinking of switching your health insurance to get a better deal or looking for health insurance for the first time? There may be ways for you to minimise or avoid waiting periods.
Savvy can help make the comparison process simple and efficient for you as you choose your health insurer. You can consider a variety of offers from a panel of leading Australian health insurers by accessing free, no-obligation quotes to compare online. Start the process with us today.
Am I able to take out health insurance with no waiting period?
Most health insurance policies come with waiting periods for those taking out insurance for the first time. These range from two months up to 12 months or more.
The permissible hospital cover waiting periods which Australian health insurers are allowed to include under current health insurance legislation are:
- 12 months for pre-existing conditions
- 12 months for pregnancy and obstetrics services
- 2 months for psychiatric care, palliative care and rehabilitation services
- 2 months for all other services
When it comes to extras cover, insurers are permitted to apply any waiting periods they choose. This can range from no waiting period up to several months. This may result in many differences in waiting periods between various health insurance providers, so it’s very important to compare the waiting periods offered on extras cover by our partner’s panel of trusted insurers.
However, there may be ways to minimise or avoid waiting periods, including:
Look out for special introductory offers
Many health insurers have special offers for new customers which involve either free weeks of cover or some waived extras waiting periods. These special offers can be a convenient way of reducing or eliminating the waiting periods you’ll be required to serve. For example, a health fund may offer eight weeks of free coverage and a waiver on all two and six-month extras waiting periods for new customers.
When you switch, stay on the same level of cover
Because waiting periods are regulated by the Australian Government, if you switch to a higher-level policy, you’ll likely have to serve out the waiting period for the additional health treatments and higher benefits. You can avoid new waiting periods by choosing to remain on an equivalent level of cover as your existing policy or by reducing your cover and choosing a lower level, as you will have already served your waiting periods and won’t have to repeat them.
Claim an exemption for mental health treatment
Legislation permits you to upgrade your hospital cover for psychiatric care with no additional waiting periods, but only once in your lifetime. This exemption applies to hospital care for:
- Mental health services
- Drug and alcohol in-patient treatment
However, you do need to have already served the two-month waiting period for psychiatric care under the previous policy you held.
For example, if you take out a bronze hospital cover policy and serve the two-month waiting period for psychiatric care, you would be able to upgrade your policy to a silver or gold tier and not have to serve another two-month waiting period.
How should I compare health insurance policies?
A great place to start comparing health insurance policies is to consider what stage of life you’re currently at and what your health insurance needs are. The following questions may help:
- Do you want health insurance just for yourself or for others in a family unit?
- What health services have you used in the past year?
- Do you have any pre-existing conditions which you know you’ll need treatment for in the future?
- What health cover needs do you anticipate you may experience in the following few years – for example, are you planning to expand your family?
- Do you want extras cover to reduce your out-of-pocket costs for treatments like dental and optical services, or just basic hospital cover?
- Do you need ambulance cover included in your policy?
Once you’ve determined what your basic health insurance requirements are, consider the cost. Ask yourself the following:
- How much can I afford to budget each month towards my policy?
- What excess could I afford to pay if I do need hospital treatment?
- Am I eligible for the government health insurance rebate based on my age and income?
- What is the cost of my health insurance going to be, compared to having to pay the Medicare Levy Surcharge? The surcharge you may have to pay will depend on your income bracket.
When deciding between health insurers, you may also wish to compare the inclusions and exclusions that come with your preferred policy and any waiting periods which may apply if you're either buying a policy for the first time or making the switch to a policy at a higher tier.
These questions will assist you in working out which type of health insurance you require and how much cover you may be able to afford to buy. This in turn will help you decide which tier of hospital cover may be appropriate for you, and the level of extras cover which may best suit your budget.
Does the waiting period impact the cost of health insurance?
No – the Australian Government regulates the waiting periods that health funds are permitted to apply to their hospital cover policies. Health insurers do not increase or decrease the cost of their policies based on the waiting periods offered, because maximum waiting periods are regulated.
The other factors which will affect the cost of your health insurance include:
- Whether you decide to buy hospital cover, extras-only cover or a combination policy offering both of these options
- The level or tier of health insurance you choose
- Whether you will have a percentage added onto the cost of your hospital policy due to the government’s Lifetime Health Cover loading regulations
- Whether you are entitled to and qualify for an age-related discount on the cost of your health insurance
- Whether you choose to have any health insurance rebate deducted from your monthly premiums, or claim your rebate back through your tax return once a year.
By offering 100% free online comparisons, Savvy can help you choose between the policies offered by a panel of industry-leading health insurers. If you find a policy you’d like to purchase, you can either buy it online immediately or get phone assistance from a health insurance specialist so you can ask more questions about your coverage and receive guidance from an expert in the field.
Types of health insurance
This can help you pay for medical treatment if you need to be admitted to hospital. It can help cover the cost of your admission or accommodation and the fees charged by doctors, surgeons and anaesthetists. It can also cover other costs associated with a stay in a private hospital.
This helps cover the costs of health care treatments outside a hospital setting which aren’t covered by Medicare. This can include major and minor dental treatment, orthodontics, hearing aids, physiotherapy, glasses, contact lenses and podiatry (in most cases with annual limits).
This is a standard health insurance policy designed for a single person, rather than being tailored to cater to the needs of a couple or family. It may include hospital cover plus extras, or either of these types of insurance on their own, depending on what you're after for your health cover.
A family health insurance policy is designed for a family unit including dependent children who may reach up to 31 years of age with some insurers. It offers private health insurance suitable for the whole family and may include shared limits for all members included in your policy.
A health insurance policy aimed at seniors is designed to appeal to people who are in the second half of their life. These are often specific Silver Plus policies that offer the same cover as other health insurance policies, with the exception that pregnancy and childbirth cover may not be included.
Visitors who are in Australia on a temporary basis for travel, work or study may be able to take out Overseas Visitors Health Cover (OVHC). Many visas issued in Australia come with a requirement to take out this type of insurance, which covers visitors who may not be covered by Medicare.
Ambulance cover is generally available either packaged into your private health insurance or on its own as a separate policy or subscription. By having this protection, you could be covered for all eligible ambulance travel in Australia (subject to your insurer's terms and conditions).
The cheapest and most barebones form of private hospital insurance, this can include cover for rehab, in-hospital psychiatric services and palliative care. Having this policy will enable you to avoid paying the Medicare Levy Surcharge (MLS) and Lifetime Health Cover (LHC) loading.
Bronze hospital cover is a step up from basic insurance, including 18 further clinical categories such as ear, nose and throat, bone, joint and muscle, digestive system, joint reconstructions, gynaecology and chemotherapy, radiotherapy and immunotherapy for cancer.
Silver hospital cover is the second-most expensive type of policy and offers the second-most clinical categories. On top of what's offered by basic and bronze cover, it also includes heart and vascular system, lung and chest, blood, hearing device implantation and dental surgery.
The highest level of private hospital insurance available in Australia, gold policies can offer cover for pregnancy and birth, weight loss surgery, assisted reproductive services and insulin pumps on top of all the categories provided by silver, bronze and basic hospital insurance.
Why compare health insurance through Savvy?
Frequently asked questions about health insurance waiting periods
Helpful health insurance guides
Looking for health insurance to cover your condition or treatment?
Read one of our helpful guides on a range of different ailments and potential hospital or extras treatments to help you find out if they're covered.
Savvy is partnered with Compare Club Australia Pty Ltd (AFS representative number 001279036) of Alternative Media Pty Ltd (AFS License number 486326) to provide readers with a variety of health insurance policies to compare. Savvy earns a commission from Compare Club each time a customer buys a health insurance policy via our website. We don’t arrange for products to be purchased from these brands directly, as all purchases are conducted via Compare Club.
Savvy’s comparison service is provided by Compare Club. Compare Club compares selected products from a panel of trusted insurers and does not compare all products in the market.
Any advice presented above or on other pages is general in nature and doesn’t consider your personal or business objectives, needs or finances. It’s always important to consider whether advice is suitable for you before purchasing an insurance policy.
For any further information on the variety of insurers compared by Compare Club or how their business works, you can read their Financial Services Guide.