Last Updated on 5 January 2021

Health insurance for couples


Australian couple sit on the beach

Taking out a joint health insurance policy with your partner can make a lot of sense. It’s convenient and sometimes can be better value than two separate singles policies. But you’ll still need to do some research to work out what’s best.

This guide is designed to help anyone married, in a registered relationship, or a de facto relationship make a decision about how to get a couples policy that’s right for them. And if you’re ready to buy now, we can find you an affordable policy in a matter of minutes.

Key Points
  • Compare your options to decide if a combined couples policy or two singles policies provides the best value.
  • You don’t need to be married to be eligible for couples health insurance in Australia.
  • Both partners have to be on the same level of cover in order to take out a couples policy.
  • It’s worth comparing family and couples policies if you’re planning to start a family.

What is health insurance for couples?

Couple-specific health insurance means you and your partner are covered under the same policy. You share one policy and only pay one premium.

Typically, insurers will offer couples policies that are either hospital only, extras only or a combination of the two. Many insurers offer specific combinations that are tailored for couples and include extras that are commonly used by both partners.

If you’re going for joint hospital cover or a combined package, you’ll be offered one of four different levels of cover to choose from: basic, bronze, silver and gold. Basic is the cheapest, and often only comes with ambulance cover, with the ability to avoid the Medicare Levy Surcharge and limited cover for just a few hospital services.

Some insurers offer “Plus” versions of their policies. This is where they take items from a higher tier and create a package that’s tailored to a specific type of customer. For example, some insurers offer Silver Plus packages aimed at Over 50s couples that include all the benefits of Gold cover, except pregnancy or birthing items.

This isn’t to say couples cover is better than two singles policies. If one of you has a specific health need, it may make more sense to look for two separate policies. That’s why it’s worth taking time to compare your options across both types of policies. This is something our specialists can help with.

How do health insurers define couples?

If you are married, de facto (live together as a couple but are not married) or a registered couple you are eligible for couples health insurance. There’s no minimum time required for how long you’ve been together, so if you’ve moved in after a few weeks of whirlwind romance, you can still get a couples policy.

It also doesn’t matter what age you are. Insurers often create packages to suit young couples who are relatively healthy as well as those planning a family. There’s also options for older couples with no children, empty nesters, and mature couples who need cover for conditions that can arise with age.

What type of health insurance is best for Australian couples?

What type of health insurance is best for Australian couples?

Why take out couples health insurance?

There’s a number of reasons why a couples policy may be a good choice for you:

  • The overall cost of insurance premiums can be lower for a couples policy than for two single policies.
  • It’s convenient: you’ll only have one insurance premium to pay, and you’ll only need to manage one account.
  • Some insurers allow you the flexibility to choose a policy with a combined annual limit so each partner can select the extras services of their choice. For example, one partner could choose dental treatment while the other opts for mental health care services.
  • Couples policies tailored towards people in their 20s and 30s often have more extensive cover for family planning needs, unlike lower-cost singles policies which often exclude cover for fertility treatments and pregnancy services.
  • Couples policies can be good value for older Australians who have similar health needs.

What are the key features of couples insurance?

It depends. Often insurers create packages that are aimed at a specific age, such as young healthy couples, people planning a family, and older, retired Australians. These vary between insurers, so it’s worth taking the time to compare what each insurer is offering.

Taking out a couples policy may also result in a better government rebate. Singles with an income of $90,000 or less are eligible to receive the full rebate, while for couples or families, this threshold is $180,000.

Look at the government rebate tiers below to see whether you could get a higher rebate as a couple or a single.

 What is the government health insurance rebate for Australian couples?

 What is the government health insurance rebate for Australian couples?

Is it cheaper to take out two singles policies?

It depends, often on what your health needs are and how old you are. A retired couple may be able to get a better value couples policy rather than taking out two Gold tier policies, while there’s often specific plans for younger couples looking to start a family.

That said, if you’re a young, healthy couple, it may be more cost effective to take out separate singles policies. As ever, it’s worth comparing to see what’s best for you.

How does Lifetime Health Cover Loading work with couples policies?

Lifetime Health Cover loading (LHC for short) is a government introduced surcharge designed to get Australians to take out health insurance at a younger age, and alleviate the stress on our public health system.

We’ve got a full guide to LHC here, but for every year past the age of 31 that you don’t have private health cover, you’ll get a 2% loading fee added on to your hospital policy premium when you do come to take out cover.

If you’ve both taken out health cover before you turned 31, relax and move onto the next section. LHC doesn’t affect you.

But if either you or your partner is over 31 and has never held health insurance, then you’ll pay the average loading between both of you.

So if you’ve held health insurance since your 20s but your partner has a 10% LHC loading, then you’ll pay a 5% loading on your couples or family policy.

In some cases, it may be more cost effective to take out two singles policies until you’ve nearly eliminated the LHC costs. Don’t worry if this sounds confusing – we’re used to getting these questions, and one of our team can quickly calculate what’s the best value for you.

How does combining policies affect a couple’s Medicare Levy Surcharge?

If you earn more than $180,000 as a couple and don’t have private hospital cover, you’ll be subject to a surcharge of between 1% and 1.5% depending on how much you earn.

Even if you opt to take out two singles policies, you’ll still have to pay the MLS if you earn over $90,000 as an individual.

If your primary motivation is to avoid the surcharge then most Basic hospital cover plans and all hospital plans from Bronze upwards will do the job, regardless of whether you’re on a singles or couples policy.

 How much is the Medicare Levy Surcharge?

 How much is the Medicare Levy Surcharge?

Should I take out a family policy if we’re planning to start a family?

This is where comparing health insurance can be really beneficial, as there’s lot of different options available.

The main thing to know here is that pregnancy, birthing and reproductive services like IVF are top tier Gold hospital cover items, although some insurers will offer specific Silver Plus policies for couples looking to start a family

Here’s where you’ll need the calculator. Under a couples policy, you and your partner must have the same cover, meaning you’ll need to take out a top-tier Gold or Silver Plus policy. But you could save money if one partner takes out a gold-tier policy while the other holds a lower level of cover.

That doesn’t mean that you won’t want to take out a Gold couples policy, especially if you’re looking for cover around assisted reproductive services like IVF.

If you’re lucky enough to be welcoming a new bub into the world then it’s definitely worth comparing couple and family policies. There’s not a huge difference in premiums between the two, but you may find that some policies have more restrictions and or offer better extras rebates.

A final note: obstetric services like pregnancy, birthing and IVF tend to come with 12 month waiting periods, so you’ll need to take out a policy ahead of starting to try for a baby if you want to use the benefits of top tier cover.

If you’re planning to start a family, speak to one of our team and we can take you through your options.

What happens if we split up?

Get in touch with your insurance provider as soon as possible. You’ll be able to switch to an equivalent single policy without re-serving waiting periods.

Alternatively, use our comparison tool to find a new policy. You can switch health funds to an equivalent cover at any time without penalties.

Where can I get the best couples health insurance?

If you’ve read all the way through this guide, you’ve probably realised there isn’t a one-size-fits-all couples policy. Every couple is different and there’s different policies available for young, healthy couples and older empty nesters.

Our team of experts can help you find the best policy for you and ensure you only pay for the cover and benefits you need.

Discuss with your partner what your health priorities are and, when you’re ready, get in touch with our experts who can help you find the right couples cover from our panel of insurers.

This guide is opinion only and should not be taken as medical or financial advice. Check with a financial professional before making any decisions.


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