What is the difference between hospital and extras cover?

Average customer rating: 4.3/5
Written by Joshua Malin
Reviewed by Steven Spicer
Updated 05 June 2024

The key differences between hospital and extras cover

Besides the fact that each product covers different treatments and services, hospital and extras cover differ in several other important ways:

  1. Waiting periods. For extras insurance, waiting periods differ between providers and policies, while hospital insurance waiting periods are set by the government and are standard across all funds.
  2. Costs. Premiums differ substantially between both types of cover. Generally speaking, hospital cover is more expensive than extras, as you would typically use this cover for more expensive procedures (e.g. joint reconstructions).
  3. Government levies and rebates. To avoid the Medicare Levy Surcharge (MLS) and Lifetime Health Cover loading (LHC), you’ll need a valid hospital insurance policy at the right time, as an extras policy isn’t sufficient. There are also certain requirements that you must meet, such as holding an appropriate hospital policy for every day of the financial year to avoid the MLS. However, the Australian Government rebate applies to both extras and hospital policies.

Expert health insurance tips

Our health insurance expert, Steven Spicer, has some tips on how to get more value out of your health insurance policy.

Steven Spicer
Executive General Manager – Health, Life & Energy

Take advantage of Health Management Plans

Under their extra’s health insurance cover, many insurers provide coverage for preventative health services such as weight management courses, health checks and even swimming lessons for children.

Utilise in-home services

Some health funds allow you to recover from hospital treatment in the comfort of your own home. If you’re eligible, they could also help with meals and cleaning services. Depending on your health fund (and if you have extras cover), you can also access telehealth services for physiotherapy, psychology and more.

Avoid some waiting periods

If you’re looking to access coverage sooner rather than later, there are a few ways to achieve this. For example, some health funds don’t have waiting periods for accidents and ambulance services, while some may have a waiting period as low as one day. Better yet, some policies have no waiting periods on common extras services such as routine dental, while some policies may waive these waiting periods as part of a promotion.

Hospital cover

What is hospital cover and is it worth it?

Hospital insurance tiers

Can I get hospital cover if I have pre-existing conditions?

Extras cover

What is extras cover and is it worth it?

Do I need hospital cover or just extras?

Can I get extras cover if I have a pre-existing condition?

More information

What’s the difference between private health insurance and Medicare?

Is ambulance cover different to hospital or extras cover?

Meet our health insurance expert, Steven Spicer

Steven Spicer
Executive General Manager – Health, Life & Energy

As the Executive General Manager of Health, Life and Energy, Steven Spicer is a strong believer in the benefits of private cover and knows just how valuable the peace of mind that comes with cover can be. He is passionate about demystifying the health insurance industry and advocates for the benefits of comparison when it comes to saving money on your premiums.