Health cover and your kids

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Consumers are typically advised to approach impossibly cheap deals, bargain-basement discounts and freebies with caution, because what seems too good to be true usually is. But when it comes to health insurance and your children, there is such a thing as a freeride.

That’s because most private health insurance funds in Australia charge the same premiums for families with children as they do for couples without kids. So effectively, you can find free health insurance for your children. Many providers even waive excess when you make some claims (such as hospital and some dental) for your kids. But there are conditions to be aware of.

The fine print

Health funds differ in their definition of a dependent child. Some agree to include children in your policy up to the age of 18, some say 21, while others include adult children up to age 25. This will depend on whether your child lives with you, whether or not they work and their marital status.

Family policies can cover you, your partner and all unmarried children up an agreed age and some providers offer cover for single parent families for a slightly reduced premium. All policies are different so make sure everyone’s covered up to the age you need them to be, before signing up.

If you’re thinking about starting a family, you should also be aware that waiting periods, usually of around 12 months, apply to most birthing-related services such as obstetrics and antenatal for instance. So it’s important that you modify your health insurance cover in advance of pregnancy to ensure you’re covered. Some health funds require that you inform them of your new arrival within a few months of birth, some sooner, so that the policy details can be adjusted to include your child.

Child checklist

All private health funds differ in their offering when it comes to family polices – including on fees, premiums, wait lists, excess and definitions. So to ensure that you’ve got all bases covered, here’s a checklist of questions to throw at your provider:

  • Up until which age will my children be covered by my policy? Are there any conditions?
  • Do I have to pay excess for my children if they are admitted to hospital?
  • Are there any no-gap extras benefits for kids?
  • What is the waiting period required before I can claim birthing-related services
  • How long after the birth of my child do I need to inform you to update my policy

Finally, before you sign up for private health insurance, it’s worth shopping around for a good deal using a financial comparison site. Revisit your policy every 12 months to ensure it’s still the best deal on the market and to confirm that your policy still covers everything you need.

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