COVID-19: Will you keep your private Health Insurance?

UPDATED 26 August 2020 Key Points
  • Even before COVID-19, many people were questioning the value and affordability of private health insurance
  • If you've lost your job or your income has reduced significantly health insurance may seem like a luxury you can no longer afford
  • Many health insurers have responded by expanding cover to include COVID-19 conditions for anyone with hospital cover and telehealth services and to provide new financial hardship options
  • Don't be overly concerned by the threat of COVID-19 - you won't need health insurance to get good quality treatment for that
  • Now might be the time to downgrade to cheaper cover, get rid of extras cover or suspend your policy
  • Make sure you don't get lumped with the Medicare Levy Surcharge if you're single and earn more than $90,000 or a couple and earn more than $180,000 and don't have hospital cover (keep in mind your don't need Extras Cover to avoid the Medicare Levy Surcharge)
Affordability of health insurance Australians were dropping out of private health insurance even before the economic problems caused by COVID-19. Anyone that has lost their job or had a significant drop in income is likely to find health insurance is an unaffordable luxury. In addition, with elective surgery on hold and fitness centres closed it's even harder to get value for Extras premiums. Many health Insurers have responded to the circumstances by pausing premium increases for 6 months, expanding hospital cover to include COVID-19 conditions, adding cover for telehealth services, and providing options to suspend policies. Don't be scared into thinking you need to keep your health insurance to be treated for COVID-19. The main COVID-19 response is being led by the public health system and you'll get good quality treatment regardless of whether you have health insurance or not. If you need to save money and you are thinking of making changes to your health insurance consider these options:
  1. Consider suspending your policy - if you do this you can make a decision about your health insurance when things return to a more normal state
  2. Consider getting rid of Extras Cover - this is usually pretty expensive and you may not get much benefit from it anyway. Extras Cover doesn't influence whether you are charged the Medicare Levy Surcharge - that is based entirely on whether you have Hospital Cover so you may be able to drop Extras Cover, save some money and avoid being lumped with the Medicare Levy Surcharge
  3. Consider downgrading your cover to a more basic policy - you'll save money and keep some of the benefits of your health insurance
  4. If you are certain you don't need it, or you can't afford it and you don't have the option to suspend it, cancelling it may be the only option you have. We suggest you discuss options with your insurer first to see if they can provide additional hardship options
Assistance by Health Insurer
Insurer Assistance optionsContact details
Australian UnityMore details
  • Cover for video and telephone consultations for some Extras services
  • Access to mental health support for members
  • Financial hardship and premium relief options - (if you or your partner on the policy)receive JobKeeper or JobSeeker you can apply to defer your premium increase. If deferred, your premium will not increase between the date of your application and 1 April, 2021
1800 243 954
AHMMore details
  • 2 financial support options for members who have been impacted - either Financial Hardship suspension option or partial premium assistance
  • Extra annual limits rollover
  • Covid-19 Health Assist - offers a range of products to support members affected by Coronavirus
1300 561 852
BUPAMore details
  • Contact BUPA if you are experiencing financial hardship as a result of Covid-19 to discuss individual circumstances and cover, premium relief, premium discounts or suspension of your policy
  • Expanded cover for Covid-19 hospital treatment for lung and chest conditions for all hospital policies
  • Cover for telephone and video consultations for some extras continuing
CBHSMore details
  • Expanded cover for members with COVID-19 by paying ex-gratia benefits towards related chest, heart, lung, and kidney hospital admissions regardless of your level of cover
  • Cover for telephone and video based consultations for both physical and mental health treatments, including chemotherapy and dialysis
  • Up to 6 months free cover for members suffering financial hardship
    option to suspend policy for 3 - 24 months
1300 654 123 or
Defence HealthMore details
  • Expanded hospital cover for COVID-19 until 1 July, 2021
  • Cover for telephone and video consultations extended until 31 March, 2021
  • 6-12 months financial hardship suspension
  • Option for returned financial hardship suspension members to suspend again for 3 to 6 months
  • Not charging an excess for members who paid their excess in 2019-2020 but had treatment postponed
1800 335 425
GMHBAMore details
  • From 1 October, 2020 to 31 December 2020 eligible members experiencing financial hardship can access a premium reduction of 30% for 3 months
  • Expanded hospital cover for COVID-19 conditions
  • Cover for telephone and video consultations for some Extras services
  • Option to suspend policy for up to 12 months
  • Partnered with Kieser to bring physiotherapy and strength training directly to members at no additional cost
1300 209 426
Gu HealthMore details
  • Expanded hospital cover for COVID-19
  • Members experiencing ongoing financial hardship as a result of Covid-19 can contact the fund to discuss your specific circumstances
1800 249 966
HBFMore details
  • 2020 premium increase cancelled - no change in premiums until 1 April, 2021
  • Additional premium and financial hardship options - contact HBF to discuss
  • Temporary cover for telephone and video consultations to 30 June, 2021
133 423
HCFMore details
  • From 1 October 2020, new eligibility for Covid-19 hardship support
  • Cover for telehealth services until 30 June 2021
  • Nurse helpline for Covid-19
13 13 34
MedibankMore details
  • State of disaster temporary premium reduction (10% reduction available to eligible members for 3 months)
  • Financial hardship temporary premium reduction (eligible members can access a 50% reduction in premiums for 6 months)
  • Policy suspension available
  • Expanded hospital cover for COVID-19 conditions
  • Mental health phone support available 24/7
  • Covid-19 Health Assist
  • 24/7 Medibank nurse available for all members with hospital cover
1300 991 379
Navy HealthMore details

  • Changes to policy suspension rules to reduce minimum period to 1 month
  • Expanded hospital cover for COVID-19 conditions
  • Option to suspend hospital cover for 6 months
  • Limits for psychology services increased
  • Members with hospital cover may downgrade their hospital cover and if they return to their original cover within 6 months, all previous served waiting periods will be waived
1300 306 289
NIBMore details
  • Access to telehealth
  • Expanded hospital cover for COVID-19 conditions
  • Financial hardship assistance available
  • If on JobSeeker or JobKeeper NIB have postponed the premium increased from 1 October, 2020 to 1 April, 2021
13 16 42
PeoplecareMore details

  • Expanded hospital cover for COVID-19 conditions
  • Cover for telehealth services extended until 1 April, 2021
  • Extended access to health programs on hospital cover until 1 April, 2021
  • General financial hardship provisions
    1800 808 690
    Police healthMore details

    • Cover for telehealth services
    • Policy suspension option
    1800 603 603

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