Best health insurance plans for couples

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Especially at the start of a relationship, finding the best health insurance for couples is probably something you haven’t put a lot of thought into. But it might be a more cost-effective option, and even help you get a level of cover you couldn’t afford as a single. The trouble is that navigating all the various policy options can be overwhelming. The good news? We’ve got all the information you need to make the most informed decision.

So, whether you’re a young couple starting a family or enjoying an empty nest, here’s what you should be looking for in a health insurance policy that’s been tailored for couples.

What’s the best private health insurance for couples?

When you start searching for the best private health insurance as a couple, you’ll want to start by looking at a few of the key factors that cater to your specific living situation. It’ll be different for everyone, but it might be a good idea to start looking at cover that – at the very least – takes care of hospital stays, various surgical procedures and allows you to customise it with extras.

Make sure you look for policies that include services relevant to your health needs, your age and your current life stage – whether it’s family planning, maternity and obstetrics, or preventative care. Take note of how flexible the policy is, especially in whether it lets you choose your preferred healthcare providers, as well as things like being able to make a claim online.

You’ll also want to factor in things like any out-of-pocket costs, including co-payments and excess. If you’re a couple planning a family, pregnancy cover and support for fertility treatments like IVF will no doubt be essential.

4 things to look for in a couples health insurance policy

  • Comprehensive cover: Make sure the policy covers a wide range of medical services relevant to both of you. Not just hospital stays and surgeries, but anything relevant to your specific needs and future plans (e.g. pregnancy).
  • Flexibility in extras: Look for policies that allow you to add on extras and create a custom policy. This will help ensure you have health cover based on your unique needs.
  • Affordability: You may want to balance your desire for comprehensive cover with affordability – especially if you’re a couple on a tight budget. Compare premiums, out-of-pocket costs and any possible discounts to find a policy that fits your budget without compromising on the essentials.
  • Network of approved providers: Check if your preferred healthcare providers are included on the insurer’s network. Having easy access to doctors and specialists you trust can make the whole process easier for you and your partner.

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How much does couples health cover cost?

It depends. Basic policies can start at around $45 per week (or $180 monthly), but you may only get the bare-bones cover. However, as you look at most comprehensive policies you’ll see the prices start to increase – with higher-tier policies like Silver, and Gold giving you heaps of extra benefits. It's important to note, though, that these tiers and choosing to add extras, such as dental or optical, will mean bigger premiums.

In all things, we recommend you weigh up the benefits of any particular policy against your budget, while at the same time prioritising cover based on your – and your partner’s – individual health concerns. Striking a balance between affordability and a higher level of cover will ensure you get access to essential healthcare without unnecessary financial strain.

What counts as a ‘couple’ for private health insurance?

At least for health insurance here in Australia, being classified as a ‘couple’ doesn't mean you have to be married. On the contrary, couples cover is freely available for any two adults who are married or in a de facto relationship, or who have registered their domestic relationship in their state or territory.

So no matter what you call your relationship, you can rest easy knowing you’re a ‘couple’ who can take advantage of several great private health insurance policies, designed specifically for people in your living situation.

What happens to my couples health insurance if we break up?

Most Aussie health insurance companies reserve their couples policies only for two people who are married, living together in a de facto relationship, or are a registered couple. But if you break up and are no longer in a romantic relationship, you unfortunately won’t be able to keep that couple's insurance.

In other words, once the relationship ends you’ll need to get back to searching for a singles policy that matches your new lifestyle, your healthcare needs and – perhaps most importantly – your budget!

How does the Medicare levy surcharge work for couples health insurance?

The Medicare levy surcharge (MLS) is a tax levied on adults in Australia who don’t have private health insurance and are considered ‘high earners’ – that is, they have a taxable income over $93,000 individually, or couples with a combined taxable income exceeding $186,000. Be aware that if even one person in a couple earns above the income threshold, both partners need to pay the Medicare levy surcharge.

The easiest way to avoid this surcharge? Take out private hospital cover!

You’ll also need to consider your combined income for the Australian Government Private Health Insurance Rebate. It’s a way to help cover the costs of health insurance premiums, with those earning below $93,000 as singles or $186,000 as a family or a couple able to claim a higher percentage. This percentage also increases with age.

How does lifetime health cover (LHC) loading work for couples health insurance?

Once you or your partner hits 31 years of age, a 2% Lifetime Health Cover (LHC) loading is tacked onto your health insurance premiums for every year you’ve spent without hospital cover. So the older you are, the higher the loading percentage.

LHC loading is an incentive to encourage Aussies to get hospital cover early. The critical date here is your ‘base day’: the July 1st following your 31st birthday. For example, if you delay getting hospital cover until you’re 35, your loading will be a whopping 10%. That means if your monthly premiums are $200, they’ll go up to $220 with the loading.

If you have combined cover, the LHC loading is only applied to the hospital part of your premiums. However, for couples, the loading is calculated by averaging the loadings of both individuals on the policy. So, if one person has 20% loading and their partner has none (i.e. 0% loading), the overall loading that will be applied is 10%.

Which health insurance is best for a couple?

While cost is most often the biggest factor in deciding on health cover, it’s a good idea to sit down as a couple and discuss both your ‘needs’ and ‘wants’ in the cover. You might focus on weighing the premiums against the level of cover, for example, rather than focusing solely on the cost factor.

It’s always a good idea to compare health insurance policies from multiple insurers, as this will give you an idea about which policy will offer not just the best value for money, but also if it has any perks or discounts you can take advantage of.

Ultimately, the best health insurance for a couple is one that matches your health needs, your lifestyle and your budget. Be sure to review your existing policy every so often, especially when your lifestyle and circumstances change.

Final word

Choosing health insurance as a couple is about finding a balance that fits your specific needs. Think about your individual health needs, the flexibility of the policy, the cost of monthly premiums, as well as things like the Medicare levy surcharge and LHC loading.

The bottom line? The best policy for you and your partner is one that will have a balance of cover and affordability.

Simon Jones
Written by
Simon Jones
Simon has spent more than 15 years covering the technology and finance sectors as both a journalist and content marketer. He is fascinated by the convergence of AI and big data, and spends what little free time he can scrape together either wrangling two kids or expanding his gin collection.

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