We’re all looking for ways to save money, and if you’re a spouse and have private health insurance, combining policies may be something that’s crossed your mind.
Alix and Adam from Brisbane, both 34, have been together for 10 years with different policies.
“We looked at getting a blanket policy about five years ago, but it would have been the same price as individual policies, so we didn’t think it was worth making the switch,” says Alix.
They are considering exploring their options again – not only for possible financial gain – but also because they believe combining may be easier to manage.
We spoke to health insurance experts and relationship gurus about what to consider before making a financial commitment to couples health insurance.
Is your connection ready?
Before considering a joint policy, Relationships Australia NSW chief executive Elizabeth Shaw recommends discussing your individual motivations for doing so.
She says issues you can cover might include:
- To what extent do you want to intertwine with each other and why?
- Is your picture of a successful relationship covered by the belief of merging everything?
- Is it too early in the relationship to consider this step?
Ms Shaw says just because something is financially practical doesn’t mean it’s right for you.
This is especially true if there is a financial imbalance in the relationship.
She recommends seeking separate advice from either a financial expert or even a trusted friend or family member to discuss money matters.
“As unromantic as it sounds, every decision has to be tested against: what if this relationship ends? One of us dies? Make sure I consider all the possibilities,” says Ms Shaw.
Are there any savings?
In most cases, couples policies are simply double the price of two single policies, explains CHOICE insurance expert Jody Bird.
But if you plan to have a family, a joint policy can benefit you financially in the long run.
“It may be useful to consider which policy will be best for your future family needs, such as maternity cover.
“If you take out a policy now as a couple, serve the required waiting periods [usually 12 months]you will be covered for pregnancy and then you can convert it to a family policy when the new addition to the family arrives.”
Ms Bird says a family policy is usually the same price as a couples policy.
But if kids aren’t on the horizon, and especially if you and your partner have different health needs, two single policies are probably the best way to go, she says.
“For example, if you only want hospital cover to save tax, but your partner may need joint reconstruction and glasses, then you can buy a basic hospital policy for yourself and a higher level policy for your partner.”
Other questions to ask
Whether you’re looking at joint or single policies, there’s more to consider than price, says Consumers Health Forum chief executive Leanne Wells.
Things to think about include – which doctors are covered by your plan? Does the insurer have arrangements with facilities that will perform the procedure in the absence of a gap or a known gap [capped extra fees]? What additional fees are likely to be incurred for the procedures?
“You can also ask about age-based discounts if you’re between the ages of 18 and 29,” says Ms Wells.
[If you’re a high-income earner, and you don’t take out hospital cover, you may need to pay the Medicare Levy Surcharge.]
Ms Bird says if you don’t think you need health insurance for your health, but wonder if it could save you taxes, visit Do I need health insurance?
When comparing policies, Choice and the Consumers Health Forum recommend using an independent, private health comparison website such as privatehealth.gov.au.
This is general information only. You should consider obtaining independent professional advice in relation to your particular circumstances.
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