Health Insurance Needs for Recreational Athletes

Athletes have very unique sets of health care needs. They need frequent health activities and services to ensure consistent performance, immediately accessible remedial therapies to minimise swelling or pain, and procedures and rehab to recover fast from any injuries. The breadth of eventualities the athletes coverage for is much wider than that of a regular customer. The exact assessments, remedial services, and hospital treatments & medications you’d need depends on the sport. Given how active many Australians are, assessing the health needs based on the athletic lifestyle will be relevant to many.

Most common medical needs are podiatric surgery, physiotherapy, chirotherapy, rehabilitation, remedial massages, and procedures related to bone, joint and muscle. Head injuries are also common in certain sports as football, rugby, motorsports. The frequency, range and severity of the medical conditions are often higher for athletes and thus sufficient health insurance coverage requires some investigation. Note that general private health insurance will not cover the needs of professional, competing athletes but only provide benefits to recreational sports players. Professional athletes should get specialised insurance through the sports associations.

An athletic person has three options to choose from (which can be combined): Medicare, private health care and sports personal accident insurance. Here’s what could be covered by one or more of the three options.

Private hospital insurance only provides procedures that are covered by Medicare but helps cover the portion of the costs of getting the same treatments at private hospitals or doctors of the customer’s choice. Insurers can cover non-Medicare procedures in the extras covers they offer. Sports injury insurance is not allowed to provide coverage for any procedures or treatments covered by Medicare whether fully or partially.

MedicarePrivate Health InsuranceSports Personal Injury Insurance
Hospital treatments (see all categories here)100% coverage for doctor visits and treatments at public hospitalsAccess to treatments covered by Medicare at private hospitals and doctor of your choice and 100% of the treatment cost if it had been received at public hospitals is covered with the remaining cost borne by the patientSports personal injury insurance cannot cover any clinical assessments or treatments covered by Medicare.
Extras cover ‘Extra’ services not covered by Medicare such as dental, physiotherapy, etc. with the coverage level dependent on the insurerCan cover the expenses for some non-Medicare, elective treatments such as diagnostic scans, elective surgeries, etc. (If a service is covered by private health insurance, you still get a payout albeit reduced)
Other benefits Additional rebates and health services to certain eligible populations based on needsSome insurers include travel insurance for possible health needs overseasPartial lump sum (income) benefits for certain injuries (e.g., hip/pelvis fracture, skull injuries, kneecap, etc.) and full sum payout for serious injuries resulting in death, paralysis, or permanent disability

Best Health Insurance Policies

The recommended coverage for recreational athletes is private insurance hospital cover, extras cover and sports injury insurance.

Below are some of the best hospital and extras covers offered by private health insurers and specialised sports injury insurance available. These recommendations are for those who enjoy playing sports recreationally but regularly. For athletes and sports participants, the minimum tier would likely be Bronze or higher so Basic tier information is not included here. Everything that’s included in the lower tier is also included in the higher tier. Thus, all services included in the Bronze tier, for instance, would also be included in Silver.

You can find more options tailored to your needs by using Compare Health Insurance.

1. Private Health Insurance – Hospital and Extras Covers

Hospital Cover ($750 excess)Price Range (Weekly)$15 – $22$23 – $36$29 – $38
Treatments CoveredBones/joints/muscles, hernia and appendix, joint reconstructions, pain mgmt., back/neck/spine, dental surgery, and moreAccidents, rehabilitation, podiatric surgery, heart and vascular system, blood, lung & chest, joint replacements (only in some Silver products), and morePregnancy and birth, pain mgmt. With devices, weight loss surgery, private room promise, and more
Treatments ExcludedPodiatric surgery, plastic & reconstructive surgery, heart and vascular system, joint replacements, etc.Pain management with devices, pregnancy & birth, etc.None
Extras Cover
  • Weekly price ranging from $6 to $14
  • 60 – 75% claim back from Members’ Choice providers
  • Includes dental, optical, physiotherapy/chirotherapy, orthodontics, remedial massage, podiatry, dietetics, blood pressure monitors, acupuncture and more


Hospital Cover ($750 excess)Price Range (Weekly)$17 – $26$21 – $46$35 – $47
Treatments CoveredBrain and nervous system, blood, bone/joint/muscle, joint reconstructions, lung & chest, podiatric surgery, and moreRehabilitation, hospital psychiatric services, joint replacements, back/neck/spine, accidents, health subscription refunds, travel and accommodation, uncapped emergency ambulance, and morePregnancy and birth, assisted reproductive services, weight loss surgery
Treatments ExcludedHeart and vascular system, pregnancy & birth, joint replacements, back/neck/spine, etc.Pregnancy and birth, weight loss, etc.Non-Medicare procedures
Extras Cover
  • Weekly price ranging from $9 to $36
  • Includes dental, optical, physiotherapy, podiatry (excl. orthotics), non-PBS medications, dietary, health aids & appliances, travel & accommodation, chiropractic and osteopathy, and more


Hospital CoverPrice Range (Weekly)$22 – $32$26 – $50$42 – $53
Treatments CoveredJoint reconstructions, accidents, bones/joint/muscle, pain mgmt., lung & chest, blood, dental surgery, podiatric surgery, , digestive system, and moreBack/neck/spine, cataracts, joint replacements, rehabilitation, hospital psychiatric services, and morePregnancy and birth, weight loss surgery, insulin pumps, pain mgmt. with devices, and more
Treatments ExcludedRestricted rehabilitation, heart and vascular system, back/neck/spine, joint replacements, etc.Pregnancy and birth, weight loss surgery, insulin pumps, etc.Elective cosmetic surgery


Extras Cover
  • Weekly price ranging from $4 to $23
  • Increasing loyalty limits
  • Includes dental, optical, physiotherapy, exercise physiology, chiropractic, osteopathy, remedial massage and myotherapy, acupuncture, podiatry including foot orthotics, dietetics, audiology, postnatal services, and more


Hospital Cover ($750 excess)Price Range (Weekly)$20 – $31$26 – $48$45 – $58
Treatments CoveredBone/joint/muscle, joint reconstructions, lung & chest, pain mgmt., back/neck/spine, podiatric surgery, dental surgery, blood, plastic and reconstructive surgery, and moreRehabilitation, palliative care, heart and vascular system, insulin pumps, pain mgmt. with devices, joint replacements, and morePregnancy and birth, assisted reproductive services, weight loss surgery, hospital psychiatric services, and more
Treatments ExcludedHeart and vascular system, pregnancy & birth, joint replacements, restricted rehabilitation, insulin pumps, etc.Pregnancy and birth, weight loss, etc.Non-Medicare procedures
Extras Cover
  • Weekly price ranging from $4 to $14
  • Includes dental, optical, laser eye surgery, physiotherapy, osteotherapy, hypnotherapy, diet & nutrition, non-PBS medications, psychology, and more

2. Sports Personal Injury Insurance

Many personal injury insurances that cover a variety of scenarios where your life is impacted by a significant injury including from sports. These are income protection policies to help support you in case you need to pay for non-Medicare procedures or your livelihood is impacted due to your injuries. They cover the expenses for elective procedures you may need due to your active lifestyle and also pay a lump sum in case of injuries.

Based on the sport you play, the insurer may add loading or increase the waiting period based on risk level. Football, one of the most popular sports in Australia, will likely trigger these alterations to your insurance policy.

Personal Injury Insurance for Athletic Lifestyle Description
Medibank Income Protection InsuranceUp to 75% of income with 1,3, or 5 benefit years and 30 or 90 day waiting period in case you can’t return to work due to serious injury
Chubb Personal Accident Insurance $8 – $55 monthly premium with lump sum cash payment ranging from $25,000 to $500,000 for all eligible claims which can be used however you like (cover medical costs, make up for lost income, etc.)
HCF Personal Accident Insurance$14 or more monthly premium with cash benefits from $25,000 to $50,000 for factures, dislocations, burns, and accidental injuries
Qantas Life Insurance with Adventure Sports Cover$25-$35 monthly premium for up to $500,000 payout in case of your death due to accidents, illness, or high-risk sporting activities
Australian Sailing Insurance Available to registered members of Australian Sailing Affiliated Clubs and covers non-Medicare medical expenses, physiotherapy, domestic help, broken bones, and loss of income for sailing-related injuries or accidents
TAL Income Protection Insurance with Accident and Sports CoverUp to 75% of monthly income with a maximum of $12,000 monthly payment for when you are totally disabled and unable to work or partially disabled and suffered a reduction of 20% or more in your ability to generate a monthly income

Best Travel Insurance Policies for Amateur Athletes and Their Medical Needs

If you do casual tournaments and competitions, the insurance you get will need to be provided by specialised sports insurers. Amateur athletes may need overseas coverage as well when they have to travel for competitions and tournaments.

Here are some special insurance products for various competitive sports.

Insurance Products for Amateur AthletesDescription
Dogtag Travel Insurance for All SportsOne-off, short-term travel insurance policy which covers expenses related to various medical needs, mugging, accidents, loss of sporting equipment, and death for singles, couples and families and includes most sports
Wiggle Travel Insurance for CyclistsProvides coverage for both you and your bike for various scenarios (domestic and overseas) with up to $10,000 for non-Medicare medical costs, up to $30,000 for damage to the bike, and more
Topsail Travel Insurance for Sailing EnthusiastsCovers up to your sailing travel of 60 days, up to $10,000 medical & repatriation expenses, up to $50,000 search & rescue, and more
Zoom Travel Insurance for Marathon RunningProvides coverage for medical and travel-related needs (domestic and overseas) with the option to add extras covers to include activities related to various sports; For marathon/running, Zoom includes racing on foot for distances up to and including full marathon (42.2 km)

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