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Health Insurance for Single Parents

Jonathan February 18th, 2015 0 comments

As a single parent, your child is dependent on you for everything. You are responsible for meeting the health needs of your children, as well as for being there to provide care.  This means you need to have insurance coverage that provides payment for all of the special needs your child will have as he ages, as well as coverage for yourself so you can stay healthy and get treatment quickly if you fall ill.  Fortunately, many insurers provide affordable and comprehensive health insurance coverage for single parents and their children.

*Correct as of 2009/10

Do I Need Health Insurance As a Single Parent?

As a single parent, you could purchase private health insurance that covers your child only. A dependent-child only policy would ensure that your son or daughter has care but would not protect you from unexpected medical expenses. You could also be subject to the Medicare Levy Surcharge if your income exceeds the threshold and you do not buy hospital coverage for yourself, even if you have purchased insurance for your child.

Find Out What Your Medicare Levy Surcharge Would Be If You Don?t Have Coverage for Yourself

Medicare Levy Surcharge Calculator

The Medicare Levy surcharge is an additional fee paid on top of the 2% Medicare Levy Surcharge that most Australian taxpayers pay. You can avoid the surcharge if you have Private Health Insurance (Hospital Cover).

The exact surcharge level you'll need to pay depends on your income level and relationship/family status. Use the slider and dropdown menu below to determine what surcharge you're liable for if you don't have private hospital cover.

Please select status

Your Medicare Levy Surcharge is 1% of your income, or $2050
Singles
Families
$90,000
$180,000
$90,001-105,000
$180,001-210,000
$105,001-140,000
$210,001-280,000
$140,001
$280,001
Medicare Levy Surcharge
Standard Tier 1 Tier 2 Tier 3
All ages 0.0% 1.0% 1.25% 1.5%

It is generally best to purchase a policy that covers both you and your children. Not only can you avoid tax consequences and maximize the rebate available for the purchase of insurance, but you can also avoid financial worries because you will know that if you are hospitalized or need medical care, your insurance will cover it.

As a Single Parent, Should I Buy a Family Policy to Cover Me And My Children?

Community ratings are used to set the costs of premiums for insurance policies. Prior to April of 2007, single parents who purchased family policies were treated the same as a couple with dependents for purposes of calculating premiums. However, new risk equalisation arrangements went into effect on April 1, 2007.

As a result of the change in risk equalisation arrangements, single parent families who purchase private health insurance will be treated as having one single adult policy (SEU). Health insurance funds may price private policies cheaper for single parents to reflect the new rules for risk equalisation. However, not all funds will offer specially priced policies for single parents.

Because you can save a significant amount of money if your health insurance fund offers a single-adult policy with dependent coverage, rather than a traditional family policy only, it is beneficial to shop around for a fund that offers insurance coverage designed especially for single parents. Find out how much your premiums will be if you purchase a policy today.

What if You Are in the Process of Divorce?

If you are divorcing and you previously had family cover, you need to ensure that you replace it with new health cover right away. You are protected by law from having to re-serve waiting periods when you switch to a new policy of comparable cover. If you allow your policy to lapse during the divorce process and do not immediately sign up for new coverage, you could be forced to go through a waiting period for pre-existing conditions and other types of coverage.

What to Look for When Shopping for Health Insurance As a Single Parent

You should look for a health insurance fund that offers a specially-priced policy for single parents, so you can benefit from changes to the risk equalisation ratings effective as of April 1, 2007. Since these policies now charge you as a single adult rather than as a couple with dependents, you can save money.

You should also consider whether the fund offers ?per person? benefits or ?capped? family benefits.  A policy offering capped family benefits allows you to devote more of your spending on extras for your child rather than on your own health needs.

What Types of Coverage Does a Single Parent Need?

Typically, it makes sense to purchase both hospitals and extras coverage for you and your children.

Hospital cover pays for treatment in a private hospital and can pay for some or all of the costs not covered by Medicare. Since the average waiting period for many common treatments children need is lengthy (you could wait around 100 days for a tonsillectomy), having hospital coverage is key to getting your child the help they may need.

Health Insurance Waiting Period Estimator

Health Insurance Waiting Period Estimator

You will have to serve a waiting period when you start a new private health insurance policy or increase your level of cover. A waiting period protects members of the fund by ensuring that individuals aren't able to make a large claim shortly after joining and then cancelling their membership. This kind of behaviour would result in increased premiums for all members.

Use this calculator to choose a hypothetical date in the future (or leave it on the default setting, which is today's date) to determine when you will be covered for various types of coverage.

Most health insurance funds will apply the following waiting periods to new members taking out a hospital cover product:

(These are the maximum waiting periods allowed by law for hospital cover.) These waiting periods also apply to any additional benefits on your new product if you transfer to a higher level of hospital cover, with your existing fund or with a different fund.

Note: If you are moving to the same or a lower level of cover, you will NOT have to re-sit waiting periods.

Some funds also apply Benefit Limitation Periods for some types of treatment on some of their hospital covers.

Months Standard Waiting Period
0
  • Accidents
  • Ambulance
2
  • Chiropractic/Osteopathic
  • Alternate/Natural Therapies
  • Dietetics
  • Eye Therapy
  • Hospital Treatment
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Pharmaceutical Perscriptions
  • Physiotherapy
  • Podiatry
  • Speech Therapy
  • General Dental
6
  • Optical
12
  • Orthotics
  • Major Dental
  • Pre-Existing Conditions
  • Pregnancy Related Services

As a single parent, you cannot afford to be out of commission for a long period of time while waiting for care. This means the ability to be treated in a private hospital is also going to be more important for you.

The necessary extras coverage that you should look for will vary depending upon the types of medical services you and your child may require. You should consider looking for a policy that will meet the needs of a growing child. This means it should cover:

  • Dental and orthodontic care. The Medicare Child Dental Benefits Schedule covers only $1,000 in dental expenses over two years for children between the ages of two and 17 . If your child needs braces or more costly dental care, you?ll want to have extras coverage.
  • Vision correction: Although Medicare pays for eye tests, it does not pay for glasses or contacts for you and your kids. You want to make sure you can see well and that your kids will be able to get corrective lenses if their developing eyes are nearsighted or farsighted.
  • Speech therapy. Many young children need help from a speech therapist to correct common speech impediments like stuttering. A health  fund covering Extras can ensure your child can get assistance from a professional.

Think about the medical services you need and that your child may require in order to decide what extras coverage is right for you.

When Do You Need to Buy Coverage For Your Kids?

Single parents need obstetrics coverage if they are pregnant. Insurers are permitted by law to impose a 12-month waiting period for obstetrics coverage. If you are planning on having a child, buy insurance well in advance to get covered.

When you buy obstetrics coverage, bills for delivery are paid but not expenses if your child is admitted to a private hospital. You should upgrade to your new single parents policy within one to three months of the time your child is scheduled to be born so he or she will be covered at birth. Different funds have different requirements for getting a child covered on a single parent?s policy.

Is There Help Available to Buy Health Insurance?

There is a rebate for the purchase of family/single parent health insurance as well as for the purchase of dependent-only insurance for your children. Only one parent can claim the rebate. The rebate depends upon your income level. Single parents are subject to family thresholds; however, the thresholds increase by $1,500 for each dependent child after your first. This health insurance rebate calculator shows the rebate amount you can expect to receive to make your insurance coverage more affordable.

Health Insurance Rebate Calculator

Depending on your age, family status, and income level, you may be entitled to a Government Rebate on your private health insurance policy. Use the sliders and dropdown menu below to calculate your rebate.

Please select status

You are entitled to a 1% Government Rebate on Your Private Health Insurance Policy.
Singles
Families
$90,000
$180,000
$90,001-105,000
$180,001-210,000
$105,001-140,000
$210,001-280,000
$140,001
$280,001
Rebate
Base Tier Tier 1 Tier 2 Tier 3
Age 65 25.934% 17.289% 8.644% 0%
Age 65-69 30.256% 21.612% 12.966% 0%
Age 70+ 34.579% 25.934% 17.289% 0%

What if You Do Not Have Insurance?

Extras coverage is optional, although you likely will pay significantly more out of pocket for your health care and your child?s health needs if you do not have it.

Hospital insurance, on the other hand, is not totally optional. If you do not have this and your income exceeds a designated level, then you will be faced with a surcharge for not buying a hospital policy. This is referred to as the Medicare Levy Surcharge. This calculator tells you what your surcharge will be based on your income.

Medicare Levy Surcharge Calculator

The Medicare Levy surcharge is an additional fee paid on top of the 2% Medicare Levy Surcharge that most Australian taxpayers pay. You can avoid the surcharge if you have Private Health Insurance (Hospital Cover).

The exact surcharge level you'll need to pay depends on your income level and relationship/family status. Use the slider and dropdown menu below to determine what surcharge you're liable for if you don't have private hospital cover.

Please select status

Your Medicare Levy Surcharge is 1% of your income, or $2050
Singles
Families
$90,000
$180,000
$90,001-105,000
$180,001-210,000
$105,001-140,000
$210,001-280,000
$140,001
$280,001
Medicare Levy Surcharge
Standard Tier 1 Tier 2 Tier 3
All ages 0.0% 1.0% 1.25% 1.5%

If you wait until you are over 30, you will also have to pay ongoing higher expenses when you do buy insurance due to Lifetime Health Cover loading.

Do not hesitate to get coverage for you and your child. Shop for a single parent policy today to get the protection you need.

Disclaimer: The above information is correct and current at the time of publication.

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