Finding the Best Health Insurance for Your Family

Published: April 4, 2019

Take your time when choosing a private health insurance policy that will suit your specific family structure. Typically, people searching for family health insurance want to know which fund covers the broadest range of services and treatments, while still offering great value for money.

Depending on your health insurance company, there might be a few different options available, tailored specifically to your stage of life: Starting or expanding your family, couple with kids or a single parent and even established families with children leaving for university.

Use this article to help you choose the best family health cover for your requirements at the most affordable price.

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Supporting your family with private health insurance

Private health insurance helps support your family financially by covering some or all the costs for treatment and services not paid by Medicare. The best health insurance plan for your family depends on the specific services and treatments you and your children frequently claim, your family structure and what you can afford.

Benefits of having family health cover

  • Pay only a single premium and receive coverage for your entire family.
  • Simplify your admin by only having to keep track of one policy.
  • Save money on your taxes. You could be eligible to receive the Australian Government Rebate, thus reducing the premium you pay, or you can claim it through your tax return.
  • Some health funds do not require that you pay Hospital excess for children under 21 years old.
  • Avoid waiting lists for elective surgeries.
  • Typically, a family policy will include emergency ambulance services.
  • Depending on your choice of family health cover, you might have access to pregnancy and birth-related services, assisted reproductive services like IVF and can claim benefits on pre-natal classes.

What is family health insurance?

Generally, a family health insurance policy combines Hospital and Extras to provide coverage for you, your partner and your children. Depending on your health fund, a family health insurance plan usually covers a private hospital room in a private or public hospital, your choice of doctor, dental services, including orthodontics and removal of wisdom teeth, glasses and contact lenses, physio and ambulance services.

Companies offering private health insurance for families

Generally, all private health funds in Australia will allow you to combine any Hospital policy with any Extras policy so you can create your own individualised family private health insurance plan. However, some health funds have ready-made family packages available for purchase, such as:

Medibank family cover

Medibank gives you the opportunity to create your Family policy by choosing which Hospital and Extras you want to combine. However, they do offer ready-made packages, including:

Bronze Plus Growing Family

A cheaper policy covering the most common hospital treatments with 60% back on Extras.

  • Cover for accidents
  • Ambulance services
  • General & Major dental
  • Orthodontics
  • Optical
  • Physiotherapy
  • Psychology
  • Pregnancy compression garment
  • Antenatal & Postnatal services

Silver Plus Growing Family

While the general treatments covered stay about the same as the Bronze Plus Growing Family, this policy costs a bit more because it covers a broader range of hospital services, including:

  • Heart and vascular system
  • Podiatric surgery
  • Medically necessary plastic and reconstructive surgery

Silver Plus Families

A cheaper policy than the Silver Plus Growing Family option, covering similar Hospital services.

Although you can only claim 55% on Extras, like dental, physio and chiro, your annual limits grow with your family, for up to 5 years.

Medibank Gold Growing Family

The most comprehensive family option; tailored to those starting or expanding their family and allows you to claim up to 60% on Extras.

  • Pregnancy and birth related services
  • Assisted reproductive services
  • Joint reconstruction
  • Dialysis for chronic kidney failure

Source: medibank.com.au (April 2019)

Bupa family health insurance

Bupa offers 3 family specific options, tailored to your budget and family structure.

Budget Family Growing Family Established Family
Combines Low Hospital with Low Extras so families on a tight budget can still get good hospital coverage plus 60% back on Extras.
  • Emergency ambulance
  • Accidents
  • Rehabilitation
  • Cardiac & Cardiac related services
  • General & Major dental
  • Orthodontics
  • Optical
  • Physiotherapy
For those wanting pregnancy coverage with antenatal and postnatal support. Bundles Medium Hospital with Medium Extras. Claim 60% from general treatments.
  • Pregnancy and birth related services
  • Assisted reproductive services (IVF)
  • Obesity-related procedures & surgeries
  • Abdominoplasty & lipectomy
Targeted toward families where parents require a bit more health care and have older children. Packages Medium Hospital with Medium Extras (60% back).
  • Hip and knee replacement
  • Renal dialysis for chronic kidney failure
  • Unlimited general dental and higher annual limits for major dental
  • Eye therapy
Source: bupa.com.au (April 2019)

HCF family health insurance packages

While you can combine Hospital and Extras to create your custom family cover, HCF does have two ready-made packages for you to choose from:

My Silver Plus

A more affordable option, typically selected by young families that want at least medium Hospital and Extras coverage.

  • Emergency ambulance
  • Rehabilitation
  • Heart and vascular system
  • Pregnancy and birth related services
  • General and major dental
  • Optical
  • Physiotherapy

My Family Advanced Silver Plus

This policy is generally targeted toward families with older parents and includes higher annual limits, as well as coverage for some additional treatments and services.

  • Podiatric surgery
  • Orthodontics
  • Occupational therapy
  • Podiatry
  • Speech therapy
  • Artificial aids
  • School accident benefit

Source: hcf.com.au (April 2019)

The health fund also offers health programs for families, which includes services like an online childbirth education course, access to breastfeeding consultations and kids swimming lessons.

NIB family health insurance

NIB offers health insurance for 3 family types, including young and established families, as well as packages specially created for single parents. Each family structure offers you three packages with varying levels of Hospital and Extras to choose from:

Please visit our NIB health insurance page for specifics on the cover options listed below.

Established family Young family Single parent
  1. Bronze Standard Hospital Plus with Core Extras
  2. Bronze Standard Hospital Plus with Core & Wellbeing Extras
  3. Silver Advantage Hospital Plus with Core Extras
  1. Gold Top Hospital with Core Extras
  2. Gold Top Hospital with Core & Wellbeing Extras
  3. Gold Top Hospital with Top Extras
  1. Hip and knee replacement
  2. Renal dialysis for chronic kidney failure
  3. Unlimited general dental and higher annual limits for major dental
Source: nib.com.au (April 2019)

Important: The above is merely an overview to provide with a general idea of the options available from each insurer. For a comprehensive list of Hospital and Extras covered under each policy, please visit the health fund you’re interested in.

Health cover considerations before you purchase

Every family is different, the best private health insurance for families in Australia are generally the ones where you can create your own, by combining Hospital and Extras policies that suits your specific requirements. When creating your tailored family plan, you might want to consider:

  • Your family structure. Starting a family, growing family, single parent, or established family.
  • How many family members you want to be covered.
  • What you can afford.
  • The age of each person in your family.
  • Specific health care needs of each family member.
  • Whether any of you have pre-existing medical conditions.
  • If and when you're planning to get pregnant.
  • Your family’s overall lifestyle. For example, whether your kids participate in many sports.

Take note: If you’re upgrading your existing health insurance policy to a more comprehensive family plan, you'll generally have to serve the required waiting periods on the treatments and services you did not have on your previous policy, as well as reserve waiting periods on the benefit amount that is higher than your old plan.

Find affordable family health insurance

How much does health insurance for a family cost?

The monthly premium you can expect to pay for family health cover in Australia averages between $222 up to $970, depending on the Hospital policy (Gold, Silver, Bronze or Basic) you combine with your chosen Extras plan (Top, Medium or Basic). The higher your choice of Hospital excess, the lower your premium will generally be.

Tips for saving on your family health cover

  1. Request, review and compare quotes from a variety of health funds.
  2. Understand your family's needs, for example, whether you're planning to have more children or have any pre-existing medical conditions.
  3. Be realistic about the premium you can afford.
  4. Save on premiums with the Australian Government Private Health Insurance Rebate.
  5. Pay a higher Hospital excess. You can generally choose between $250, $500 and $750. The higher your Excess amount, the lower your premium will typically be.

Health insurance for low-income families

If you earn below a certain income as a family, you might be entitled to receive a Low Income Health Care Card, which gives you:

  • Discounted medicines under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.
  • More refunds for medical costs when you reach the Medicare Safety Net.
  • The ability to bulk bill your doctor visits.
  • Discounts on dental services and eye care.
  • Reduced emergency ambulance services.

Frequently asked questions and answers

How does military health insurance for family members work?

Private health insurance for military families can be obtained when you’re in the Australian Defence Force (ADF) or another military organisation. Coverage will then be extended to your partner, children, parents, siblings and grandparents. Policies from the Defence Health Fund provides you with the option of 3 Hospital and 3 Extras plans, which you can purchase separately or combine into a tailored package.

Can you get ambulance insurance for your family?

If you do not live in Queensland or Tasmania, you generally won’t receive free ambulance insurance from your government and might want to consider purchasing ambulance coverage from a private health insurance company. Emergency ambulance services for the whole family is generally included in both Hospital and Extras plans, although select insurers do sell ambulance only coverage.

Which is the best family health insurance when planning to start a family?

If you’re planning to get pregnant be sure to purchase a private health insurance policy immediately as there is usually a 12-month waiting period before you can claim pregnancy and birth-related services. Depending on you’re specific requirements and age, you might want to buy a Hospital policy that includes assisted reproductive services and an Extras policy with pre- and post-natal services.

How long can children remain on a family policy?

Children can generally remain on your family policy until they’re considered adults, typically age 18. However, if your child is between the ages of 21 and 25, they can usually stay covered when studying full-time and unmarried or if they’re still financially dependent and under the age of 21 and unmarried.

How much does health insurance cost for a family of 4?

Many health funds in Australia will allow you to add children to your health insurance policy free of charge, so you’ll essentially pay between $200 and $1,000 (depending on the level of Hospital and Extras chosen) for a family policy regardless of how many children you have.

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