Single Parent Health Cover: Health Insurance Tips For Finding A Better Policy
(6 Minute Read)
Paying for single parent health cover is probably one of the biggest expenses you pay for each month besides your mortgage/rent. The cost of health cover has risen dramatically over the past 8 years, by a whopping 42% on average! On top of rising prices, you also have a significant amount of miss-information spreading throughout the internet surrounding heath cover as well, making single parents more weary about finding a better deal.
We’ve written this article to give you some basic advice surrounding single parent health cover, and to put your mind at ease in regards to finding you & your kids a better deal.
- Staying on your ex-partners cover
- Leaving your ex-partners cover
- Best single parent health cover
- Hospital cover & wait periods
- Extras cover
- Where should I compare?
Staying On Your Ex-Partners Health Cover
Can I stay on my ex-partners health insurance plan? Is one of the most commonly asked questions when thinking about health cover after a separation or divorce. The short answer to this is, it depends.
Bupa for example are quite explicit in their fund rules and state “If you are insured under a couples or family policy and you and your partner become divorced or separated, you will no longer be eligible to remain insured under a policy together and it is your responsibility to ensure that each person takes out their own policy.”
However, some health funds which will let you all still stay on the same policy. This is because there is no legislation surrounding this specific issue, so it comes down to a health fund by health fund basis.
So our advice would be to ring up your existing health fund and check. You don’t want to be in a situation where your health fund refuses to pay out on a hospital claim due to your new marital status. However, staying on the old family policy will more often than not, work out cheaper for you, so it’s worth asking the question.
Leaving Your Ex-Partners Health Cover
If you & your ex-partner split cover, you need to make sure you take up a new policy within 30 days generally. Most health funds will allow a 30 day gap in coverage before making you re-serve wait periods. There are some health funds, like nib, who will extend this to 59 days. However the majority of the health funds restrict this to 30.
So, if you’re going to continue having health cover after you split, make sure you take up a new policy within 30 days if you leave your ex’s plan. We’ve heard enough stories first-hand about ex-partners removing people from their plans without them knowing and then having to re-serve all their wait periods.
If you & your ex-partner both take out new policies. Be aware that your children do not have to be covered by both of you, one adult can take out a single policy and the other a single parent policy.
Best Single Parent Health Cover
If you only take away one idea about private health insurance away from this article, then it should be this. There is no such thing as the “best single parent health cover”, nor does “the best health fund” exist.
Just because your friend, co-worker or even an online reviewer such as Choice or Canstar recommends a health policy, the chances are that it will not be best suited to you. Why? Because your identity is not a “single parent”, you are a unique individual with unique children, who all have a different set of needs and requirements from the next family.
Below we’ll discuss what you should be looking out for when choosing health cover policy.
The first thing you need to know about hospital cover is how wait periods work. If you switch cover to a new health fund, or change cover with your current health fund, you will not, I repeat, will not, re-serve any wait period which you have already served; even if it is a pre-existing condition.
Hospital wait periods will only apply to you if you fall under either of these two categories.
1) You’re new to cover
2) You are upgrading a service you previously were not covered for
For example, say you have a basic level of cover now, and you upgrade to a policy which now covers you for heart surgery. You would gain access to all the thousands of procedures you used to be covered for from day 1, you would just have to serve a wait period of the services you were not covered for, ie heart surgery.
The wait periods on hospital cover are:
- 2 Months New Conditions
- 12 Months Pre-Existing Conditions
- 2 Months in-hospital rehabilitation, palliative care & in-hospital psychiatry
- 12 Months Pregnancy & IVF
Hospital Cover & Wait Periods
Knowing the standard waiting periods are useful as it allows you plan out your health policy in 3 year blocks. What we suggest is to have a think about the types of surgeries your family could plausibly have over a 3 year period and remove items from your plan which you think have an exceptionally low chance of occurring.
For example, if you’re done with having children, you may wish to remove pregnancy & IVF from your policy. Similarly, if you think that the likely hood of anyone in the family needing a full knee replacement would be slim to none within the next 3 years, you could remove that.
Remember, most basic hospital covers will cover you & your family for all procedures with a medicare item number, except for a small list of exclusions. However, if you’re ever on the fence about a procedure being covered or not, we reckon it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Extras cover can be a great way to really gain benefit from your heath fund. Firstly, let’s assess whether all of you actually need it. Did you know you can take out a hospital policy for you & your children, and then an extras policy just for you? You can even do this with different health funds!
Now if you have teenagers or tweens going to the dentist each year then we would recommend you all stay on the same extras plan. But, if your eldest child is below the age of 3 and regular visits to the dentist are not a thing right now, it might work out financially beneficial to you to just cover yourself for extras. (Note if you do this, double check your hospital policy covers you for emergency ambulance)
Now if your kids are at the age where they will use extras you really want to maximise your benefits and make sure you get the best return for your dollar. Things you should consider when picking an extras policy:
- Can I get gap-free dental check-ups for myself & my children?
- Do I need to have braces covered at this stage?
- Do we actually use other services like chiro or massage?
- How often do we use these services?
Maximise Your Extras
With children who need regular visits to services like speech therapy or psychology, an extras plan can pay for itself and then some. For example, HIF’s Premium Options allows up to $1,000 per year on psychology claims and $1,200 per on speech therapy. Having massive limits are great for families with recurring visits.
However, having large limits are not great for families who only use extras services a few times a year, in that case you want to look for a plan which gives you a higher rebate (a higher claim each time). The best advice we can give you on how to choose an extras plan is to think of it like this, you are paying a certain amount of money each year to have a specific extras plan, you need to make sure that you’re confident you will earn more in claims, than you would paying insurance premiums.
If you’re not claiming more money than it costs you to have the plan, then you would financially be better off having no extras plan at all. We speak to so many people who have top extras, paying an extraordinary amount of money each year, but they only claim on the dentist once or twice a year and occasionally a little bit of physio. These people can often save a fortune when they switch to a plan which is more tailored to their needs.
Where Should I Compare Health Cover?
There are lots of places you can compare your single parent health cover, if you want to use a broker, you have options like Health Deal, Iselect, Compare The Market & a few more. If you want to see every single health fund, the health insurance ombudsman has a useful website called privatehealth.gov.au which you can use to look at policies. Using a broker can be advantageous though, as even though no broker represents every single health fund, they still do offer a range of health funds.
Speaking to a consultant at Health Deal for example, can be brilliant because we go through what we call a “needs analysis” to really delve into how you use your policy and assess whether you’re actually getting value from your health cover or not.
If you’re better off staying with your current fund we’ll tell you to stay put, but we always try to not only lower your premium, but to also increase your benefits on the things you use as well.