It can be much easier to choose the right health insurance policy if you’re single, as there’s only your own needs to think about. Many single people who are in good health assume that they can get away without private health insurance, but this can be costly if an accident or illness means that you need medical treatment.
Choosing a Policy
Taking out hospital cover is recommended in case you need medical treatment. As a private patient, you can choose to be treated in a private hospital and don’t have to wait for a public hospital bed to become free. You can also have much greater control over the doctor who treats you and when your treatment takes place.
Beyond this, you’ll get the most out of your health insurance if you choose extras that suit your circumstances. For example, you probably won’t have any use for pregnancy-related services if you’re a happily single female and actively avoiding falling pregnant. Likewise, young single individuals won’t see the need for extras aimed at older people, such as joint replacements and cataracts cover. You can lower your premiums by some margin depending on what you’re choosing to drop.
Lifetime Health Cover (LHC)
If you’re under 31, now is the time to take out private hospital cover. Through the LHC initiative, you can lock in the cheapest premiums for life if you take out private hospital cover before the 1st of July following your 31st birthday. After that, you’re subject to a 2 per cent loading fee on top of your premiums for every year that you delayed beyond you were thirty, so it’s in your interests to take it out as soon as possible to minimise your loading fees or to avoid them altogether. If you look to take out couples cover further down the line, your loading fees are factored in with your partner’s, so if you have low loading or none at all, your combined loading fees would be more manageable.
Medicare Levy Surcharge (MLS)
If you have an income of over $80,000 in the 2011-12 financial year (up from $77,000 for the 2010-11 financial year) and haven’t got private hospital cover with a registered health fund, you’ll be obliged to pay an additional tax in the form of a Medicare Levy Surcharge. The threshold for single individuals changes to $80,000 for the 2011-12 financial year, so you can earn up to this and still avoid the MLS. Private health insurance is definitely something that you should be looking into if you don’t already have it – not just for avoiding the extra tax!
Many single people don’t feel they need private health insurance, especially if they’re generally fit and healthy, but this can be a mistake. If you find yourself ill or injured and needing medical treatment, with only your own income to rely on, could you afford to meet the often eye-watering bills associated with shortfalls that Medicare alone doesn’t cover?
There are also other financial reasons to arrange private health insurance (especially private hospital cover) while you’re still young as both Lifetime Health Cover and the Medicare Levy Surcharge are intended to encourage you to sign up with a health fund rather than rely soley on the public healthcare system.