What is Lifetime Health Cover?
Lifetime Health Cover was introduced by the Australian Government on July 1, 2000 and is designed to encourage people to take out hospital cover earlier in life and to maintain their hospital cover.
How do I avoid paying a Lifetime Health Cover loading?
The lowest hospital premium you can pay is the base rate. To qualify for this base rate premium, a person needs to take out hospital cover before July 1 immediately following their 31st birthday. People who join after this date will pay an extra 2 per cent loading (in addition to the base rate) for each year they are over the age of 30, up to a maximum of 70 per cent.
Are there exemptions?
People born on or before July 1, 1934 can join a registered health insurer at any time and always qualify for the base rate premium. Other special provisions apply to people who were overseas when Lifetime Health Cover was introduced, those overseas when they turned 31, migrants, those covered by a Department of Veterans’ Affairs Gold Card and members of the Australian Defence Force. New migrants to Australia who are aged 31 or over will not have to pay a loading providing they purchase hospital cover within 12 months of becoming eligible for Medicare.
Can the Lifetime Health Cover loading be removed?
The Australian Government allows health funds to remove any Lifetime Health Cover loading that applies to a person after that person has held hospital cover for a continuous 10-year period. The government recognises that people may need to stop their hospital cover for various reasons, such as during times of financial difficulty. Therefore, people can cease their hospital cover for a cumulative period of up to two years and 364 days over their lifetime, without incurring any premium loadings when they rejoin. If a member ceases their membership for three years or more, calculated over a lifetime, they will pay an additional 2 per cent loading for each full year of absence over and above the first two years when they return to hospital cover.
What happens when I change funds?
When you change funds, your Lifetime Health Cover loading moves with you. All registered health funds are obliged to recognise the certified age of any contributor wanting to transfer from another fund. The period of absence rule will apply to any gap in hospital cover if a member is not paid up to date with their previous fund.
For more information about Lifetime Health Cover, visit privatehealth.gov.au