Single vs. Couple Health Insurance

Find out the pros and cons of single vs. couple health insurance here with Savvy.

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, updated on July 10th, 2023       

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In Australia, health insurance options vary for individuals and couples, so it's important to understand the differences between these types of cover. Single health insurance covers an individual's medical expenses, while couples health insurance is designed for two people in a relationship, whether married or de facto. 

Find out the differences and the pros and cons of single vs. couple health insurance right here with Savvy today before you dive into the policy purchase process. 

How do singles and couples health insurance work?

A singles health insurance policy is designed to cover one individual, regardless of whether they are married, in a de facto relationship, or single. It is the most common type of health insurance policy in Australia. Single health insurance policies can provide a wide range of benefits, including cover for hospital treatments, medical consultations, and ancillary treatments like dental and optical services. 

On the other hand, a couples health insurance policies is designed to cover two people, who are in a relationship and living under the same roof, under one insurance policy. This type of policy can be purchased by married couples, de facto couples, or couples in a same-sex relationship. Couples health insurance policies provide the same benefits as single policies, including cover for hospital treatments, medical consultations and ancillary treatments.

Before deciding to purchase one policy or the other, it's worthwhile assessing each option to help you determine which may be most suitable for you and your partner.

What are the advantages of single and couple health insurance?

There’s a range of benefits to consider for each type of health insurance before you buy, including the following: 

Pros of taking out two singles policies 

  1. More control over your policy: with a singles policy, you have complete control over the coverage you buy, and you can tailor it to your specific health needs. You can choose a policy with extras you want, such as dental, optical, or physiotherapy, without having to worry about what your partner needs. If your partner has a particular health issue they need cover for, buying separate policies means you won’t have to purchase this cover for yourself if you don’t need it. 
  2. You can change your policy more easily: if your health needs change, you can adjust your singles policy to suit your new circumstances. This means you won't have to worry about coordinating with your partner when you want to switch health insurance policies
  3. Better access to benefits: with a singles policy, you have access to benefits such as rebates and discounts which are specifically designed for singles. For example, some insurers may offer a discount to single policyholders who pay their premiums annually. 
  4. No arguments: choosing a health insurance policy can be a complex process and not everyone has the same needs or preferences. With a singles policy, you don't have to worry about finding a middle ground with your partner on which policy to choose or which extras to include. 

Pros of taking out a couples policy 

  1. Payment convenience: you only need to pay the premiums on one policy per month or year, instead of two separate ones. 
  2. Simpler record-keeping: with a couples policy, you only need to manage one policy instead of two. This can make record-keeping and paperwork easier to manage, saving you time and hassle. 
  3. Shared extras limits: couples policies often include a shared annual limit for extras cover, which can be beneficial if one partner needs more extras cover than the other. 
  4. Add on a baby if the family grows: many couples policies allow you to add a child to the policy, so, in effect, it becomes a family policy without having to serve new waiting periods. 

What are the disadvantages of single and couple health insurance?

There are also disadvantages to holding both singles and couples health insurance. These include:

Cons of taking out two singles policies 

  1. No benefit sharing: with a singles policy, you will have set benefits for each type of healthcare treatment. If you reach the benefit limit, you will no longer be able to claim on the policy until the benefit resets at the start of a new year.
  2. Two policies to keep track of: if each member of a couple has their own single health insurance policy, there will be two separate policies to keep track of and pay for.
  3. Not possible to add a baby: it is not possible to add a child onto a singles policy, so if a pregnancy is planned it would be necessary to change to a couples or family policy.

Cons of taking out a couples policy 

  1. Different health needs: individuals have unique health needs and sharing a policy with someone else may not always provide the ideal coverage required for both parties.
  2. Loss of privacy: sharing health cover means that both parties' health information will be accessible to the other person. This loss of privacy can be uncomfortable for some people, particularly if they prefer to keep their medical history and health-related matters private.
  3. Lifetime Health Cover loading: if one person has a higher Lifetime Health Cover (LHC) loading than the other, this may result in a higher premium for the couple's policy. The LHC loading is a government initiative that aims to encourage Australians to take out private health insurance earlier in life. If you don't take out private health hospital cover before the age of 31, you will incur a 2% loading on top of your premium for every year you don't have cover. If one person in a couple has a high LHC loading, it may be more cost-effective for the other to have a singles policy until their partner’s loading is removed.

Frequently asked questions about single vs. couple health insurance

Is couples health insurance cheaper than two singles policies?

No – a couples health cover policy is no cheaper than taking out two singles policies offering the same level of coverage. This is due to Australia’s laws around health insurance community rating system, which state that everyone must be offered the same price for health insurance regardless of their age, gender or health status. As such, you may find that the costs of your policy options are very similar. 

Can a couple policy cover more than two people?

No – a couples policy is designed to cover just two people. If you want to cover more than two people, you will need to purchase a family policy which allows for multiple people to be covered, including children.  

Can a couple policy cover people who aren't in a relationship?

No – this type of policy is designed to cover two people who are in a relationship and living under the same roof. If you want health insurance cover for two people who aren’t in a relationship, such as a brother and sister or parent and adult child, you’ll need to buy two individual policies. 

Can individuals choose a different level of cover on their couples health insurance policy?

No – couples cannot choose different levels of cover on their shared health insurance policy. When a couple takes out health insurance, they’re considered a single policyholder and must have the same level of cover. This means that if one partner wants a higher level of cover than the other, they will both have to pay for the higher level of cover. 

If a couple are individually required to pay different levels of Lifetime Health Cover loading, how is their shared premium calculated?

If a couple wants to get a joint couples health insurance policy, but each half is eligible to pay a different level of Lifetime Health Cover (LHC) loading, the premium for their policy will be calculated based on the average of their individual LHC loadings. For example, if one partner has a loading of 10% and the other has a loading of 0%, the combined loading for the joint policy would be 5%. 

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