Best Seniors Health Insurance

Published: July 14, 2017

As you get older, healthy living requires you to pay special attention to your physical and mental wellbeing. One of the best ways to do this is through seniors’ health insurance, which provides you with age-relevant benefits, medical extras and hospital treatments, from prescription glasses, hearing aids and dentures to cataract surgery, hip replacements, and treatment for depression.

Health cover by age

  • Seniors over 65
  • Seniors over 70
  • Seniors over 80

Seniors cover options

  • Apia
  • nib

Health care card

  • Savings
  • Eligibility
  • Application

Our guide to finding private health insurance for seniors will help you to choose the best health cover at the most affordable price, providing you with the treatments and services you’re most likely to need at 60, 70, and 80 years old. One of the first steps to protecting your health at each life stage is by comparing health insurance policies from a variety of companies.

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The best health insurance policy for senior citizens by age group

As we get older, we become more susceptible to illnesses and injuries, so it makes sense to have a policy that covers these kinds of hospital and extras treatments at a price you can afford. Even if you already have health insurance, it might be time to review your policy and make sure your cover is still suitable to your needs.

Health insurance for seniors over 65 

Retirement is just a few short years away or has already begun, and you might be considering health cover that will help ensure you get to enjoy these golden years.

  • Hospital cover: Consider a policy that provides ambulance services and covers: Theatre and intensive care fees, x-rays, hip replacements, cardiac surgery, and a wider range of prescription medications.
  • Extras cover: You might want to choose extras cover that includes: Optical, dental, and podiatry, hearing aids, chiropractic and osteopathic services.

Health insurance for seniors over 70

When you’re over 70, private health insurance cover can provide real peace of mind by knowing that you won’t have to use your pension funds to pay for the medical treatments and services that are specific to your needs.

  • Consider hospital cover that includes: Ambulance cover, theatre and intensive care fees, x-rays and pathology, inpatient pharmaceuticals, home nursing, eye surgery, prostheses, and joint investigations, reconstructions, and replacements.
  • Extras cover you might benefit most from including: Hearings aids, physiotherapy, osteopathy, chiropractic services, optical, dental, chronic health management programs, and podiatry.

Health insurance for seniors over 80 

As a part of the silver-haired elite, you might want to consider private health insurance that provides a wider range of coverage. Not only will it give you peace of mind, but you’ll avoid or decrease out-of-pocket expenses for things like visits to the emergency rooms and home nursing.

  • Look for Hospital cover that includes ambulance services, theatre and intensive care fees, x-rays and pathology, inpatient pharmaceuticals, home nursing, mental health support, cancer, broken bones from falls, and heart problems.
  • Consider Extras cover that includes hearings aids, physiotherapy, osteopathy, chiropractic services, optical, dental, chronic health management programs, and podiatry.

Cheapest health insurance for senior citizens

What does senior’s health insurance cost?

The average cost of senior’s health insurance ranges from $1767.48 per year to $4773.60, which includes the cost of both hospital and extras cover. This amount is hugely dependent on your personal risk factors, the policy you choose, and the health insurance company providing coverage. Review the table below for health insurers you might want to consider.

InsurerOptions Offered
GMHBA offers high level packaged hospital and extras cover for an extremely wide range of services and treatments that suit your stage of life.
Package options:
  • Gold Hospital & Gold Extras Set Benefits
  • Gold Hospital & Silver Extras Set Benefits
Apia lets you choose from their top hospital and extras policies to create your own cover so that you can ensure that you are insured against the full cost of treatments and services specific to you, like hearing aids and heart surgery.
Hospital options:
  • Essential Hospital (18 services)
  • Premium Hospital (21 services)
Extras options:
  • Essential Plus Extras (6 services with higher benefit limits)
  • Premium Extras (22 services)
nib provides health insurance that is both affordable and comprehensive to alleviate the burden of paying for major surgeries out of your own pocket. All you need to do is choose between their two hospital policies and pair it with one of their extras cover options.
Hospital options:
  • Standard Hospital
  • Advantage Hospital
Extras options:
  • Wellbeing Extras
  • Top Extras
Medibank provides a choice of three packages to cover a wide range of treatments and services specific to your senior needs with high-level hospital cover and comprehensive extras cover.
Package options:
  • Top Hospital Essentials and Top Extras
  • Security Essentials
  • Security Comprehensive

Seniors Health Cover Compared

What's available GMBHA Apia nib Medibank
Average Price $40.95 – $49.20 per week. $35.38 – $54.86 per week. $33.99 – $54.26 per week. $41.41 - $91.80 per week.
Features Overview
  • No annual limit for emergency ambulance services.
  • Hospital in the Home services.
  • Cardiac treatments.
  • Joint replacements.
  • Intensive and coronary care.
  • Cataract surgery cover.
  • Nursing benefit of $1000 per year.
  • Unlimited emergency ambulance services.
  • Accidental injury cover.
  • Cancer surgery and in-hospital cancer treatment & stroke treatment.
  • Palliative care.
  • Cataract cover.
  • Joint investigations and reconstructions.
  • Home nursing services.
  • Hearing aids and speech processors, and chiropractic and osteopathic services.
  • Unlimited emergency ambulance service.
  • Total dental cover.
  • Chiropractic and osteopathic services.
  • Health aids (like knee and ankle braces).
  • Home nursing.
  • Cardiac procedures.
  • Joint replacements.
  • Renal dialysis.
  • Emergency ambulance services.
  • Plastic and reconstructive surgery.
  • Major eye surgery.
  • Joint replacement surgery.
  • Breathing appliances.
  • Access to Arthritis Australia, Coeliac Australia, Diabetes Australia, and others.
Exclusions / What's NOT Covered Pregnancy-related services (including childbirth), IVF and assisted reproductive services, the Healthy Start benefit (obstetrician's fees for inpatient services), and swimming lessons. Cosmetic surgery, assisted reproductive services, including infertility investigations, and pregnancy. Pregnancy-related services, IVF and assisted reproductive services, obesity and weight loss surgery, and psychiatric treatments. Pregnancy-related services, fertility treatments, and obesity and weight loss surgery.

What about the rebates on senior’s health insurance?

Tax rebates are not just affected by your income level; they’re also affected by your age. In fact, the rebate you can expect to receive is more generous for those who are older than 65.

Rebates for seniors for the 2016/17 financial year:

< 65 25.934% 17.289% 8.644% 0%
65 - 69 30.256% 21.612% 12.966% 0%
70+ 34.579% 25.934% 17.289% 0%
Compare Health Insurance for Seniors Australia

How does the seniors health care card work?

The Commonwealth Seniors Health Care Card provides older Australian citizens with more affordable health care and discounts. The Department of Human Services, which issues your health care card, recommends that you either claim online through the Department of Human Services or fill in a form.

You can get the form their website, complete it and then post it to the Department, or submit the form in person at your closest Department of Human Services service centre.

Seniors health care card savings

  • Cheaper prescriptions through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).
  • Access to bulk-billed doctors’ appointments.
  • Discounted out-of-hospital medical expenses through the Medicare Safety Net.
  • Discounted travel on Great Southern Rail services.
  • More discounts for additional health, household, transport, education and recreation services, if these are offered by your state, territory, or local government.
  • An Energy Supplement provided to you to help pay your power and phone bills once every quarter.

Seniors health care card eligibility

Once you are considered a senior by the Australian Government, you might be eligible for a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card, which you can use to subsidise the cost of certain medical treatments and services.

  • You need to be living in Australia, either as a resident or the holder of a Special Category visa resident who lives in Australia.
  • You need to be at least 65 years old.
  • You don’t qualify for payment from the Department of Human Services or the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.
  • You must meet an income test, and you must be able to provide your and your partner’s tax file numbers.

Seniors card threshold

The income test used to determine your eligibility for the Commonwealth Seniors Health Care Card contains a threshold for each category. This threshold doesn’t remain static year on year, and the Australian government has committed to indexing the threshold every year to reflect increased cost of living.

The annual income thresholds include:

  • Singles: $52,273.
  • Couples: $83,636 (combined).
  • Couples separated by illness, respite care, or prison: $104,546 (combined).
  • Keep in mind that your income limit increases by $639.60 for each dependent child that you care for.

Seniors health card application

Once you have met the eligibility criteria, you can visit the Department of Human Services’ website to fill in a form which you must submit, together with any supporting documents:

  • Online: Submit your documents online (excluding identity documents).
  • Post: Department of Human Services PO Box 7800, CANBERRA BC ACT 2610
  • In person: Visit your closest Department of Human Services’ service centres.

Frequently asked questions about seniors health insurance

While Australian citizens have access to Medicare, senior immigrants will need to get private health insurance to cover these costs. Even if you’re applying for permanent residency and become eligible for benefits under Medicare and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, these benefits won’t cover all the services that you might need.

It’s worth comparing premiums and benefits from top private health insurers who provide healthcare cover to immigrants, like Allianz Assistance Health, Medibank Australian Unity, Bupa, nib, HCF, and GMHBA.

Travel health insurance for senior citizens is worth considering. For instance, Medibank and Bupa offer a specific Seniors Travel Insurance policy that is available to all ages, although if you are over 70 years old, you might need to submit a medical assessment.

These policies generally cover medical emergencies and evacuation costs, cover for loss, theft, or damage to your luggage, and death or disability from an accident. Some funds will even cover pre-existing conditions with their travel health insurance, like asthma or diabetes, so long as you disclose this information when you get your quote and aren’t travelling against the advice of a medical practitioner.

Private health insurance in Australia does not cover fees for your aged care home services. You can, however, get cover for home nursing services from an extras insurance policy. The extent of your cover for home nursing depends on the health insurance company and the level of cover that you choose.

Before you choose a health insurance policy for your specific circumstances and requirements, make sure that you compare other top health funds to determine which one will provide you with the best cover at the best price.  

Find Affordable Seniors Health Insurance

Ask an Expert?


  • Patricia Hillion |

    I need a hip operation. I am 79 years old and need insurance to get faster treatment.

      Anneke Van Aswegen |

      Hi Patricia, please note that while private health insurance can help cover the cost of a hip replacement surgery, you can generally expect to wait 12 months for a benefit to be payable for any pre-existing condition.

      Fill in the quote form above and we’ll help you find a health insurance provider that covers the cost of joint replacement surgery.

  • Antoinetta Litjens |

    Hi. My partner and I came to Australia in 2001 under a Subclass 410 retirement visa.
    We are now 73 and almost 77 years old.

    We have Health Insurance, but it does not cover the care that we need at the moment.

    Will you give me advice about what we can do?

      Anneke Van Aswegen |

      Hello Antoinetta.

      As I’m not familiar with your specific circumstances, it would be best to give a health insurance specialist a call on 1300 786 328 to help you find the cover you need.

      However, if you want to stay with your current health cover provider, you could also give them a call and ask them whether you can upgrade, perhaps to a combined Top Hospital and Extras policy, which might cover you for a wider array of services.

  • Irene Smith |

    I am a single 75-year-old female. I enjoy good health. The only medication I am on is blood thinners. I would like to get cover for hospital and extras. Also for heart, optical, chiropractic, acupuncture, naturopathy, remedial massage, hearing aids and Ambulance.

      Anneke Van Aswegen |

      Hi Irene, glad to hear you are in good health.

      To provide you with a quote suited to your individual requirements, we need a bit more information. Please give us a call on 1300 795 560 or fill in the quote form above.

  • Christine ferguson |

    My husband and are in advantage health fund with Nib, with these new changes to my health fund will we still have, Hip and Knee replacements and eye surgery? These are the main things we need at our age.

      Anneke Van Aswegen |

      Hi Christine. Thank you for reaching out.

      It’s always best to contact your health insurance provider directly with concerns to your current policy. At present NIB’s Advantage Hospital policy does cover hip and knee replacement surgery, as well as eye treatments and surgery. However, we do not yet know how NIB will restructure their policies with the new classification system coming into effect on the first of April 2019. Please give NIB a call.