• For most people under 30, taking out hospital insurance isn’t essential. Instead, you can often stay on your parent’s health insurance for free.
  • Once you turn 31, however, you’ll need to have your own singles private hospital cover (or couple) to avoid the Lifetime Health Cover Loading and higher insurance premiums.
  • Having private health insurance can help you save money come tax time thanks to Australian government rebates.

Living in Australia, we’re fortunate to have a pretty good healthcare system. Yet, many Australians still opt for private health insurance.

Choosing the right health insurance policy can provide additional cover for hospital treatment, elective surgery, and extras like physiotherapy, and other medical treatments and check-ups to keep you in the best health possible. So, what is the best age to get private health insurance?

The short answer is before your 31st birthday – but there’s more to know than just that.

Whether it’s your first time considering an extras policy or hospital insurance or you’re re-evaluating your insurance provider, we’ve got you covered. Let’s dive in and discuss what you need to know about taking out private health in Australia, from the Medicare Levy Surcharge to the Lifetime Health Cover Loading (LHC loading), the different levels of cover, waiting periods and more.

Which Type of Insurance Should You Get?

First up, you have three options when it comes to private health cover:

Your healthcare needs will help you decide if you need hospital cover, or if extras cover is enough. It’s actually possible to get two separate policies from two different insurers if that lands you a better deal.

Hospital Cover

When you have hospital cover, you gain access to treatment at private hospitals. It also means you might be able to pick your own doctor and avoid long waits for elective surgery.

As you might have figured out, younger people typically don’t need hospital treatments as often as older people. For some perspective, data from APRA shows that health insurance benefits for hospital stays amounted to about $185 annually on average for people aged 20–29. Compare this to an average of over $1470 for folks aged 80–89 in the year leading up to December 2021.

However, it’s important to note that only hospital coverage influences your Lifetime Health Cover loading and the Medicare Levy Surcharge (more on this later).

Extras Insurance

Now, extras insurance covers your healthcare needs that Medicare doesn’t cover, and that occur outside the hospital. This could include dental care, glasses, and clinical treatments like physiotherapy. The exact services covered and the money you’ll get reimbursed will depend on your specific policy.

Extras insurance doesn’t influence your Medicare Levy Surcharge or the Lifetime Health Cover loading. So, only opt for it if you think you’ll get more benefits than the cost of your premiums.

To figure this out, sum up how much you’d typically spend on ‘extra’ health services per year and compare it with your annual premium. Just remember, extras policies won’t cover the entire cost.

And if you’ve already got extras insurance, here’s a tip: ask your insurer for a claims statement from last year. If it turns out that you paid more in premiums than what you got back in benefits, it might be worth considering your policy or switching insurance products to get the right cover for your needs.

The Lifetime Health Cover Loading

If you haven’t heard about the Lifetime Health Cover loading and you’re nearing the age of 31 – listen up.

LHC loading is a government initiative where if you decide to go for hospital cover for the first time after you turn 31, you’ll have an additional 2% added to your premiums for every year you delay.

Keep in mind, if you’re under 31, this loading doesn’t affect you, and your future premiums won’t change if you don’t opt for cover right now. And if you decide never to take out health insurance, this won’t impact you either.

TLDR: Take our hospital cover before you turn 31, even if you’re in good health. It doesn’t matter the level of hospital cover, just basic cover will do to help you avoid the LHC loading.

Save Money at Tax Time with the Private Health Insurance Rebate

The Medicare Levy Surcharge (MLS) is an additional charge the federal government imposes at tax time on those high earners who don’t have hospital cover.

If you’re a single person bringing in up to $90,000, or a couple or family with an income up to $180,000, you’re off the hook for the MLS, meaning there’s no tax incentive for you to have health insurance.

And if you find that you do need to opt for a hospital cover policy to save on taxes, make sure you use our tool to compare health insurance and find the coverage that gives you the best bang for your buck.


Also, bear in mind that depending on your personal circumstances, you might have the option to stay on your parents’ insurance policy.

Staying On Your Family Policy

If you’re under 31, many insurance companies (like Bupa, Medibank, HCF
and NIB) might let you stay on your parents’ plan. If you’re a full-time student, you can typically stick with the regular family plan at no extra cost. But for non-students, there could be an additional charge, which can hike up the premium by up to 30%. This is usually referred to as an extended family policy.

If there’s an extra charge involved, it’s worth taking a moment to think through everyone’s health coverage needs. If you only require basic or moderate coverage and your parents have high-end insurance – particularly if their family income exceeds $180,000 and they don’t receive the full health insurance rebate – getting your own plan might save some money. Plus, you’ll qualify for the full rebate as well as a youth discount (more on this below).

Insurance companies each have their own set of rules about which dependants they’ll include on family policies. Usually, you can’t be married or in a committed relationship. But some insurers also require you to live with your parents, be financially dependent on them, or even put a limit on how much you can earn.

There are also variations in what they consider a “full-time student” (who generally can be insured for free), so it’s crucial to read the fine print of each policy. For instance, Bupa doesn’t cover apprentices, while Teachers Health extends its coverage to apprentices, interns, and cadets.

What About Youth Discounts?

If you’re considering getting health insurance before you hit 30, know this: insurers can knock off 2% from your premium for each year you’re under 30, with a maximum discount of 10% for folks aged 18–25.

But keep in mind, not all insurance companies offer this discount, and it doesn’t apply to all their policies. So, it’s a good idea to look around and compare.

Here’s a bonus: if you stick with that policy, you’ll continue to enjoy the full discount until you’re 41. Some insurance companies even allow you to carry your discount over when you switch to a different policy. So, it’s definitely worth doing a bit of homework here.


If I rely on public hospitals, do I still need health insurance as a single person?

Public hospitals provide necessary treatments free of charge, but there can be long waiting times for non-emergency procedures. Having private health insurance gives you access to private hospitals, choice of doctor, and often shorter waiting times. If you’re single and considering whether to get insurance, consider these factors along with the costs of various health insurance plans.

What should I look for in a health fund to get the cheapest health insurance as a single person?

To find the cheapest health insurance, consider your healthcare needs first. If you’re generally healthy, a basic policy may be enough. Look for a fund with affordable premiums, sufficient coverage for your needs, and a good reputation for service and claim handling. Compare different plans and don’t forget to check the out-of-pocket costs too.

How does having health insurance affect waiting times for treatments?

Health insurance can give you access to private hospitals, which typically have shorter waiting lists than public hospitals. This can be especially important for elective surgeries or procedures.

Will a pre-existing condition affect the cost of my health insurance as a single person?

It may. Some insurers might charge more if you have a pre-existing condition, or they might impose a waiting period before they cover treatment for that condition. Make sure to disclose any pre-existing conditions when you apply for insurance.

What are the benefits of private healthcare for singles?

Private healthcare offers several benefits including quicker access to elective treatments, choice of doctor, potential access to a private room during hospital stays, and coverage for services not fully covered by Medicare like dental and physiotherapy.

Can I still use the public system if I have private health insurance?

Yes, having private health insurance doesn’t stop you from using public hospitals or other parts of the public healthcare system. You can choose to be treated as a public patient in a public hospital, even if you’re privately insured.

About to Turn 31 & Need Private Health Insurance ASAP?

If you’re searching for private health cover before you turn 31 but are overwhelmed by all the choices available, don’t worry, we can help!

Simply use our free online tool below to get personalised health cover quotes from Australia’s leading health fund providers in minutes!