Explore Health Insurance

Health outcomes for women in Australia are some of the best in the world, with the average life expectancy for Australian women ranking third among OECD nations at 85.3 years.1 However, there are still some areas for improvement that are key to women’s health care.

The Australian Department of Health’s National Women’s Health Strategy highlights five priority areas that need to be addressed to further improve health outcomes for women.2 Of these five key health issues, there are four where women could potentially benefit from having private health insurance:

How does private health insurance work?

In Australia, private health insurance is divided into two parts: extras and hospital cover. You can take them out separately as standalone policies or bundle them together into combined hospital and extras cover.

Extras cover offers many out-of-hospital health services that Medicare doesn’t subsidise, including dental check-ups, optical, physio and more.

On the other hand, hospital cover can pay towards surgeries as a private patient, such as pregnancy and birth-related services, gynaecology and medically-necessary breast surgery.

Bear in mind that hospital insurance is categorised into four different tiers: Basic, Bronze, Silver and Gold. Both the procedures you’re covered for and your insurance premiums will differ depending on the level of cover you choose.

You also may have to hold your health insurance policy for a set amount of time, known as a waiting period, before you can claim on the services you’re covered for.

Maternal, sexual and reproductive health

A private health insurance plan can make a big difference when it comes to maternal and reproductive health. While it won’t pay towards out-of-hospital tests for sexually transmitted diseases, you may feel more comfortable being treated in a private hospital for such a condition.

The benefits of health insurance for pregnant women

Gold hospital cover (and some lower tier ‘plus’ policies)  can include benefits for pregnancy and birth-related services, like the cost of private care during your pregnancy, accommodation, labour ward costs and doctors’ fees. While hospital insurance doesn’t cover consultations before you’re admitted to hospital as a patient, you can claim a portion of these costs through Medicare.

When you give birth in a private hospital, you can choose your own obstetrician, see the same doctor throughout your pregnancy and recover in a private room (if available). Women treated in a private hospital also get to spend more time on average recovering in hospital before they have to go home.3

There is a 12-month waiting period before you can claim expenses for pregnancy and birth-related services on your hospital insurance, so it’s vital to take out cover before you start trying if you want to receive private care during your pregnancy.

You can also access many valuable out-of-hospital health services for your pregnancy through extras cover. This includes birthing and breastfeeding classes, pre- and postnatal midwife visits and sleep settling consultations. Physiotherapy is another helpful extras service for women who have experienced pregnancy complications resulting in back pain, pelvic pain or incontinence.

Health insurance for women with fertility problems

If you have a hospital insurance policy that covers assisted reproductive services, you may be able to receive treatment to help you fall pregnant such as in vitro fertilisation (IVF) and gamete intrafallopian tube transfer (GIFT).

If you have a genetic condition that you’re concerned about passing to your children, you may be able to receive genetic testing to assess the genetic makeup of your embryos before they’re implanted for conception.

There is also a 12-month waiting period you’ll have to serve before you can claim on these services, so make sure you take out cover well before you plan on trying for a child.

Health insurance for women who aren’t planning on having children

If you’re not planning on having a child, there are other benefits of private health insurance that you might be interested in. For example, certain extras policies cover you for some of the cost of prescribed contraceptives for a medical purpose from a pharmacy. This is handy if you require a more expensive contraceptive that isn’t on the government’s Pharmaceuticals Benefits Scheme (PBS).

Termination of pregnancy is also an option available to women through private health insurance. Abortion is legal in some form in every Australian state. However, the specific laws surrounding termination of pregnancy do differ between states, so you’ll want to discuss your specific circumstance with your general practitioner, as you may need the approval of a second doctor, depending on your circumstances.4

Healthy ageing

Because Australian women live longer, it becomes more important to focus on healthy ageing to improve the quality of life of your later years. One of the biggest contributors to your health as you age is your lifestyle decisions while you’re young.

Only two in five Australian women meet the minimum activity requirement recommended by Australia’s Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines, and three in five are considered overweight or obese. 5 Also, while women generally drink and smoke less than men, one in nine women still smoke daily and just over one tenth drink enough to put them at a lifetime risk of an alcohol-related disease or injury.

With that said, you might want to consider an extras health insurance policy that offers lifestyle or wellness benefits such as:

  • Gym memberships
  • Approved weight loss programs
  • Programs for quitting smoking
  • Dietitian or nutritionist consultations.

Extras can also cover Cancer Council products, stress management courses and other preventative health benefits, depending on your health fund and policy.

Friends talk about health insurance for women

Chronic conditions and preventive health

On average, women have the largest percentage of disability-adjusted life years (a measure of the burden of disease) due to living with a disease.5 Of that, nearly half of women’s total burden of disease is from cancer, musculoskeletal conditions and cardiovascular disease. With private health insurance, you can receive treatment for these conditions in a private hospital and access some preventative tests, scans and screenings.

Health insurance for women with cancer

While the public health system does provide cover for cancer treatment, a private hospital policy means you can:

  • Avoid public waiting lists
  • Choose your preferred doctor if they’re available on your treatment dates
  • Be treated in a private room (if one’s available).

Some cancers are specific to or generally far more common in women, including cervical cancer, ovarian cancer and breast cancer.

The level of health insurance you may require is influenced by which part of the body is affected by cancer. The higher tiers of hospital cover (i.e. Silver and Gold) are generally the best options for peace of mind when it comes to including cancer treatments in your policy, as they include any area of the body that may be impacted.

Mental health

It’s estimated that one in five Australian women will experience depression at some point in their lives, while one in three will experience anxiety.1 Women are also more than twice as likely to suffer from an eating disorder than their male counterparts. With private health insurance, you can be covered for hospital psychiatric services with hospital cover or out-of-hospital psychology appointments through extras cover. You can also take advantage of extras health insurance to help pay for non-PBS pharmaceuticals if you happen to be prescribed a medication that isn’t covered by the PBS.

Frequently asked questions

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

Yes, you can still get cover if you’ve been diagnosed with a pre-existing health condition, and your coverage will not cost more for it. However, you’ll typically have a 12-month waiting period before you can claim treatment relating to your pre-existing condition.

What are the waiting periods for health insurance services?

Waiting periods for hospital insurance are set by the Australian Government and vary depending on the treatment. These waiting periods are the same across all health insurance providers, regardless of sex.

Waiting periods for specific hospital treatments are:Waiting period
Psychiatric care in hospital2 months
Rehabilitation2 months
Palliative care2 months
Pre-existing conditions12 months
Pregnancy and birth-related service12 months

Waiting periods for extras cover vary between insurers and will generally be 2 months, 6 months or 12 months, depending on the treatment. Some services, like hearing aids, may attract even longer waiting periods, so read your policy document carefully.

Does it cost money to add my children to my health policy?

If you’re moving from a single policy to a single parent policy or family policy, there will be a price increase.

The good news is that adding dependant children to your existing family policy doesn’t cost extra. Although, you may need to pay more for dependants over the age of 21 who aren’t studying.

Dependants can typically be insured up to 21 to 25, depending on the health fund and whether your child is studying, employed full-time or married. This is up to the insurer, who can implement their own age range from 18 to 31.

When should you get private health insurance?

If you want to buy health insurance to help cover medical expenses, there are a few factors that might impact your decision on when you should take out cover:

  • Age-Based Discounts. Introduced by the Australian Government in 2019, the age-based discount applies to adults aged 18 to 29. Should the insurer offer the discount (which is optional), you could save anywhere from 2% to 10% depending on your age when you take out the product.
  • Lifetime Health Cover (LHC) loading. If you take out hospital cover by 1 July following your 31st birthday and maintain cover, you’ll avoid paying more via the LHC loading.

These initiatives are designed to encourage Australians, whether they’re men or women, to take out health insurance earlier in life.

There are also other incentives for cover, such as:

Tips on health insurance for women from our health insurance expert, Lana Hambilton

  1. If you’re considering starting a family soon, it’s a good idea to take out hospital cover for pregnancy and birth early. This is because you’ll usually face a 12-month waiting period for pregnancy and birth-related services, so it’s ideal to have cover in place before you start trying. Having hospital cover for pregnancy and birth will help cover the cost of private care such as accommodation, labour ward costs and doctor’s fees.
  2. Private health insurance can help improve the quality of your healthcare options. Having cover allows for more choice and control of who, when and where you are treated. This could mean that you don’t find yourself on a lengthy public waiting list or having to pay a large bill.
  3. Shop around and do your research when looking for a policy. Prices vary from fund to fund and there are plenty of options to choose from. If you need assistance, speak to an expert; they’re there to help!

Compare your health insurance options with us

Let us help you compare health insurance quotes from some of Australia’s most trusted health funds. Our free health insurance comparison service allows you to filter by price, coverage and more, putting the power of comparison in your hands and helping you look for policies that suit you.


1 OECD Statistics, Health status, Life expectancy for women born in 2020, Accessed July 2022

2 Australian Government Department of Health, National Women’s Health Strategy 2020-2030, Accessed July 2022

3 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Australia’s mothers and babies, Updated June 2022

4 Health Direct, Abortion, Last reviewed March 2021, Accessed June 2022

5 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, The health of Australia’s females, Updated December 2019

single alexksander portrait in bottom global block

So, what are you waiting for?

Compare health insurance
Or call us on 1800 304 709
single sergei portrait in bottom global block