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Private health insurance

health-insuranceIt is a good idea to join a private health insurer as soon as possible after arriving in Australia. Although private health cover is not compulsory, there is a tax saving for members.

Keep in mind, you must meet the requirement for private health cover if you are entering the country on a 457 temporary working visa.

The public health system, called Medicare, is paid for though taxes and is very good. However, Medicare does not cover everything, so you may want to take out private health cover in order to have the best protection.

Hospital & Extras

There are two types of health cover – hospital and ‘extras’. You can buy one or both, depending on your budget and needs (ie. planning a pregnancy). Hospital cover gives you access to private hospitals and often the doctor of your choice. Extras include things like dental check-ups and cleans, vitamins, massages, physiotherapy, ambulance cover, midwife services, and natural therapies.

This site gives a good explanation of what Medicare covers versus what a private health fund covers. But you must be sure you are paying for the level cover you want. Not all plans are the same.

Private Health Insurance Rebate  

As a tax payer, you will likely receive the federal governement’s Private Health Insurance Rebate of 30%, which helps offset the cost of private health insurance.
VERY IMPORTANT: If you are a new migrant to Australia aged 31 or over, you do not pay a Lifetime Health Cover loading if you take out private hospital insurance within 12 months of being registered for Medicare. If you do not do this, after this time you will pay 2% more for every year that you are aged over 30 when you finally take out private health insurance. Learn more about Lifetime Health Cover Loading on the Department of Health and Aging website.


If you do not take out insurance within the time period above, this Lifetime Health Cover calculator works out what your percentage of loading (extra payment) will be, based on your age when purchase private hospital cover.

If you are on a student visa, you must have private health cover.

Health insurance providers

Whether a particular policy is right for you will depend on your age, health condition, and other factors such as whether you smoke. Take the time to research your different options – it will pay off.  Health plans are available for singles, couples, and families.

A company like iselect compares different private health plans, but keep in mind, it does not represent ALL the policies and companies available. So shop around for the best plan!

Here are some reputable private health funds in Australia. Please note: these are only suggestions to get you started with your quotes. Prepare for Australia does not promote any private health funds directly.

Australian Unity
Medibank Private