Explore Health Insurance

Do you and your partner both have health insurance, or are thinking about getting it? Rather than getting two separate singles policies, you can consider a couples policy instead.

There’s virtually no difference between singles and couples health cover in terms of what’s offered. However, couples health insurance allows you and your partner to hold the same coverage and benefits through the same health fund and only pay one premium.

What is private health insurance for couples?

It’s simply when two adults are covered under one health insurance policy. You can get two types of couples health insurance policies:

  • Private hospital cover. This insurance allows you and your partner to be treated as private patients in a private or public hospital. This lets you avoid public waiting lists, choose your treating doctor and receive your own private room (if available).
  • Extras cover. This product helps you pay for out-of-hospital services, such as dental, optical, physiotherapy and a chiropractor, which Medicare doesn’t cover.

How does couples health insurance work?

If you’re legally married or in a de facto relationship, you have two options when it comes to couples health insurance:

  1. Take out health cover separately from your spouse and buy two single policies.
  2. Take out one couples policy that would provide the same level of cover for both you and your spouse/partner.

You can choose to take out a hospital cover or extras only policy, or for the peace of mind of broader coverage, you can take out a combined policy that gives you the benefits of both.

a couple and medical practitioner discussing health insurance coverage

What’s included in couples health insurance?

Most services available under a singles policy can also be found on a couples policy. The inclusions and limits for couples insurance will vary between health funds and their levels of cover, so refer to the relevant policy brochure for the full details.

The exact treatments and services you’re covered for will depend on whether you have a hospital, extras or combined policy.

Hospital cover

Hospital insurance helps cover the cost of your medical treatment when you’re admitted as a private patient in either a public or private hospital. A hospital policy can also include cover for:

  • Theatre and hospital accommodation fees
  • Patient meals
  • Palliative care
  • Prostheses objects
  • Diagnostic tests
  • Drugs, dressings and other medical supplies.

All hospital insurance policies are now classified under Gold, Silver, Bronze or Basic tiers. The tier will determine the hospital treatments you’re covered for (e.g. Gold is more expensive than Bronze but includes more treatments).

There are also ‘Plus’ policy options for Basic, Bronze and Silver tiers, meaning they offer more than the minimum cover of the category but not all of the services in the next category up (e.g. A Basic ‘plus’ policy could cover you for joint reconstruction but not for chemotherapy).

Extras cover

Sometimes called ‘general treatment’ or ‘ancillary’ cover, extras cover helps pay for out-of-hospital medical services, such as:

If you and your partner are both covered under the same extras policy, you will most likely share your annual limits and may be subject to per person limits.

Ambulance cover

Ambulance insurance can help you cover the cost of emergency transport or other ambulance services, as Medicare doesn’t cover this. You can get this type of cover as part of your hospital or extras cover or as a standalone policy.

Not everyone will need this cover, though. In Queensland and Tasmania, state governments provide emergency ambulance services to residents for free. In Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia you can get a subsidised ambulance subscription through the government, although you may still prefer to get ambulance cover through your private health insurance. The only states where you can only get ambulance cover through private health insurance are the ACT or New South Wales. Pensioners and concession cardholders across the country can also get discounts on the price of ambulance transportation.

Additional waiting periods may also apply to your partner if they weren’t previously covered by any of the above policies or if you’re upgrading to a higher level of cover.

What are the benefits of health insurance for couples?

Taking out cover for two is the easiest way to ensure the following:

  • Your healthcare needs can grow together. While you can split up your policy into singles cover so that you can claim on different services, many couples have similar health needs. Having one policy might make it easier for you to change and update your cover as you get older.
  • You pay only one bill. It’s easier to keep track of your monthly bill when there’s just one to pay. Plus, with you and your partner both covered under one policy, it may also be easier to understand what you can both claim at tax time.

a carefree couple enjoying the outdoors

Frequently asked questions

Is couples health insurance cheaper than singles?

Couples health insurance can be of great value if you and your partner have similar needs. However, you don’t necessarily save.

For example, Sam and Jen have identical health needs, and they want to get health insurance. They compare their options separately and find that the best-value singles policy for them costs $50 per month. They also research couples policies and find that this same policy has a ‘couples’ alternative, costing $100 per month.

While their couples insurance policy isn’t cheaper than two singles policies, they may find it helpful to be covered under the same policy and only pay one premium.

There are, however, a few caveats to consider; if  one of you has different, more expensive health needs, it may be cheaper for you to take out separate singles policies.

For instance, let’s say your partner needs a joint replacement. This service is only available under a Gold hospital policy or some Plus hospital policies (e.g. Silver Plus). However, you might be ok with a lower level of hospital cover and would rather have a Bronze policy. In this case, it might make more sense if you each take out a singles policy.

Is health insurance cheaper if I’m married?

No, whether you’re in a de facto relationship, married or fell in love overnight, health insurance premiums aren’t affected by marital status.

Can I add my partner to my health insurance policy?

Yes, you can add your partner to your policy, changing your cover from a singles to a couples policy. Be mindful that your partner will be subject to serving the waiting periods for any additional or upgraded services that have been added.

Can divorced couples share health insurance?

It’s best to speak to an expert or your provider. In general, divorced couples shouldn’t share health insurance if they’re no longer in a relationship. Health insurers require you to be honest when it comes to your policy and when your circumstances change – including if you’re no longer married.

Failing to disclose this information may mean you’re not covered if you make a claim. If you move to a singles policy with the same level of cover and benefit limits  as your couples policy, you’ll still be offered the same cover and won’t be subject to serving additional waiting periods.

You’ll also be able to add your kids to a single parent hospital or extras policy, which will entitle them to the same benefits you have – provided you’ve served your waiting periods. Find out more about how single-parent policies work.

What’s the best health insurance for young couples?

It depends on the couple! For those with similar health statuses, a couples policy may be the right cover for them. However, if one of you wants cover for pregnancy, for example, you may be better off getting two singles policies instead – one that covers pregnancy, one that doesn’t.

In terms of providers, that’s something only you and your partner can decide on by comparing policies, prices and features on offer.

Can being in a couple affect how much I get back from the government’s private health insurance rebate?

The Australian Government Private Health Insurance Rebate, which helps many Australians pay for private health, can be affected if you’re insured by a couples policy. The income of you and your partner are combined, and it’s this figure that determines a rebate suitable for you both.

From 1 April 2020, the thresholds for singles and couples are as followed.

Policy TypeBase TierTier 1Tier 2Tier 3
SinglesLess than $90,000$90,001-$105,000$105,001-$140,000$140,001 and over
Families (couples)*Less than $180,000$180,001-$210,000$210,001-$280,000$280,001 and over
AgeBase tierTier 1Tier 2Tier 3
Under 6524.608%16.405%8.202%0%
65 – 6928.710%20.507%12.303%0%
Over 7032.812%24.608%16.405%0%

*This includes single-parent families. The income thresholds are adjusted for families with more than one child, being increased by $1,500 for every dependent child after the first.

Source: The Australian Government’s Private Health website1

Anthony Fleming, General Manager

Meet our health insurance expert, Anthony Fleming

As General Manager of Health Insurance and Life Insurance at Compare the Market, Anthony Fleming is passionate about helping people understand health insurance, and making the most of their policies. He believes that no matter which stage of life you’re in, protecting you and your partner’s health is essential, and health insurance can play a significant part.

Anthony has over 17 years’ experience working in various roles across the health and general insurance industries. He’s also a Board Member of the Private Health Insurance Intermediaries Association and has appeared on Sunrise and Channel Seven News on behalf of Compare the Market.

Anthony’s top tips for couples health insurance

  1. Making sure you are on the right level of cover is always important. However, as we all know, life is unexpected. If your circumstances change down the track, you can always upgrade at any time to include additional services. Just keep in mind you’ll need to serve any applicable waiting periods before being able to claim.
  2. To ensure you don’t find yourself underinsured, consider any previous admissions you or your partner have had into hospital along with both your family’s medical histories when looking at different levels of cover.
  3. While couples cover is considered to be more convenient as you only have to maintain one policy and payment, it doesn’t often cost any less than two individual policies. If you have a substantially different set of needs, consider taking out two singles policies, as it could save you money.
  4. If your partner is over the age of 65 and entitled to a higher private health insurance rebate, you will both receive the higher discount which can be applied to your policy to reduce your premiums.

Compare couples health insurance and make two become one

We can help you compare, find and switch to couples health insurance with our free comparison tool. We offer cover from some of Australia’s major insurers. Best of all, it takes just minutes to compare multiple options in one place.

Sources

1 PrivateHealth.gov.au – ‘Australian Government Private Health Insurance Rebate’ – Accessed April 2022

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