If you’re planning an extended trip outside of Australia, you may well be wondering whether you need to keep paying your health insurance premiums while you’re not in the country. Fortunately, some private health funds will allow you to temporarily suspend your private health insurance while you’re overseas, although there may be varying eligibility criteria for different health funds.
Suspending your health insurance may make sense for you if you’ll be leaving Australia for a while; ensure that you compare travel insurance to get appropriate cover while you’re away, too.Image by Step
Can I Do That?
If you’re planning an overseas trip, check to see if yours is one of the health funds that will allow you to temporarily suspend your private health insurance coverage while you’re not in the country. You may only be able to go about suspending your health insurance premiums for a specified time period; some of the leading private health funds specify that you’ll need to be leaving Australia for a period of at least 2 months before they agree to suspend your premiums.
Beyond this, you may also need to have been a premium-paying member of the health fund for a minimum amount of time before you can have your premiums suspended. Check with your health fund to see what their eligibility criteria are for suspending health insurance premiums, as they may well have their own rules for things such as how far in advance you need to inform them of your plans.
How Does It Work?
Suspending health insurance premiums means that you may not have to pay while you’re away but you’re still considered to be a member of the health fund during this time. Because you’re not paying your premiums during the suspension, you can’t claim any benefits for this period, but you will be able to resume your private health insurance cover on your return without having to serve out waiting periods again. If you suspend your cover before a waiting period has been fully served, you’ll still have to complete it once you’re back in Australia.
Is Lifetime Health Cover Affected?
As far as Lifetime Health Cover is concerned, you’ll still be considered to have private health insurance, and there is generous scope for suspending health insurance premiums for short periods .Under the Lifetime Health Cover period of absence provision, you are allowed to be without cover for 1094 days across your lifetime without LHC loading fees coming into play.
You must have arranged private hospital cover before your Lifetime Health Cover base date and have been assigned a Lifetime Health Cover age to be eligible. If you are without cover for longer than 1094 days, you’ll have to pay Lifetime Health Cover loading fees of 2% for every additional 365 days that you don’t have cover in place.
If you’re planning to travel overseas at any point, you may want to look into whether your health fund allows this option for suspending health insurance premiums during your trip. Many health funds will let you do this without affecting your membership and without having to re-take waiting periods that have already been served.
As an added bonus, you don’t have to worry about having to pay extra Lifetime Health Cover loading fees when you’re back in Australia thanks to the Lifetime Health Cover period of absence provision, unless you go beyond the permitted number of days.