Hospital cover in Australia

Cheap hospital cover starts from around $19 a week and can help you save on tax.

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What you need to know

  • The cheapest hospital cover can be found from around $19 a week.
  • There are cheap policies that let you avoid the Medicare Levy Surcharge.
  • It also lets you choose your own doctor and can help you avoid long waiting lists.

Cheap hospital cover: Finder award winners

If you're looking for the cheapest hospital cover available, a basic-tier hospital policies may suit you best. Here are the winners and finalists of the 2022 Finder health insurance awards in the basic hospital insurance category. All will exempt you from the Medicare Levy Surcharge (MLS) and Lifetime Health Cover loading (LHC).

Basic Hospital Plus $750/$1500 Excess
from $81.16 /month
Cover for 6 hospital treatments
  • Joint reconstructions
  • Hernia and appendix
  • Eye excluding cataracts
  • Gynaecology
  • Lung and chest
  • +6 other treatments covered
Qantas Basic Hospital $750 Excess
from $84.73 /month
Cover for 8 hospital treatments
  • Joint reconstructions
  • Hernia and appendix
  • Eye excluding cataracts
  • Gynaecology
  • Lung and chest
  • +8 other treatments covered

Compare hospital cover from multiple funds

Here's a wide range of hospital policies from Finder partners. All prices are based on a $750 excess for a single person earning less than $90,000 living in Sydney.

1 - 20 of 144
Name Product Treatments Price Apply
  • Rehabilitation
  • Joint reconstructions
  • Dental surgery
  • Hernia and appendix
  • Eye excluding cataracts
  • Pain management
  • Gynaecology
  • Lung and chest
$76.37
per month
Frank Entry Hospital (Basic+)
Basic Plus$750 excess
  • Rehabilitation
  • Joint reconstructions
  • Dental surgery
  • Hernia and appendix
  • Eye excluding cataracts
  • Pain management
  • Gynaecology
  • Lung and chest
  • +5 other treatments covered
$76.98
per month
  • Rehabilitation
  • Joint reconstructions
  • Dental surgery
  • Hernia and appendix
  • Eye excluding cataracts
  • Pain management
  • Gynaecology
  • Lung and chest
$77.16
per month
  • Rehabilitation
  • Joint reconstructions
  • Dental surgery
  • Hernia and appendix
  • Eye excluding cataracts
  • Pain management
  • Gynaecology
  • Lung and chest
$80.29
per month
starter basic
Basic$750 excess
  • Rehabilitation
  • Joint reconstructions
  • Dental surgery
  • Hernia and appendix
  • Eye excluding cataracts
  • Pain management
  • Gynaecology
  • Lung and chest
$80.33
per month
  • Rehabilitation
  • Joint reconstructions
  • Dental surgery
  • Hernia and appendix
  • Eye excluding cataracts
  • Pain management
  • Gynaecology
  • Lung and chest
$81.16
per month
  • Rehabilitation
  • Joint reconstructions
  • Dental surgery
  • Hernia and appendix
  • Eye excluding cataracts
  • Pain management
  • Gynaecology
  • Lung and chest
  • +5 other treatments covered
$81.16
per month
  • Rehabilitation
  • Joint reconstructions
  • Dental surgery
  • Hernia and appendix
  • Eye excluding cataracts
  • Pain management
  • Gynaecology
  • Lung and chest
  • +5 other treatments covered
$81.50
per month
  • Rehabilitation
  • Joint reconstructions
  • Dental surgery
  • Hernia and appendix
  • Eye excluding cataracts
  • Pain management
  • Gynaecology
  • Lung and chest
$81.95
per month
  • Rehabilitation
  • Joint reconstructions
  • Dental surgery
  • Hernia and appendix
  • Eye excluding cataracts
  • Pain management
  • Gynaecology
  • Lung and chest
  • +8 other treatments covered
$82.03
per month
Basic Plus Hospital $750
Basic Plus$750 excess
  • Rehabilitation
  • Joint reconstructions
  • Dental surgery
  • Hernia and appendix
  • Eye excluding cataracts
  • Pain management
  • Gynaecology
  • Lung and chest
  • +6 other treatments covered
$82.21
per month
  • Rehabilitation
  • Joint reconstructions
  • Dental surgery
  • Hernia and appendix
  • Eye excluding cataracts
  • Pain management
  • Gynaecology
  • Lung and chest
$83.20
per month
starter basic
Basic$500 excess
  • Rehabilitation
  • Joint reconstructions
  • Dental surgery
  • Hernia and appendix
  • Eye excluding cataracts
  • Pain management
  • Gynaecology
  • Lung and chest
$83.27
per month
  • Rehabilitation
  • Joint reconstructions
  • Dental surgery
  • Hernia and appendix
  • Eye excluding cataracts
  • Pain management
  • Gynaecology
  • Lung and chest
$83.31
per month
  • Rehabilitation
  • Joint reconstructions
  • Dental surgery
  • Hernia and appendix
  • Eye excluding cataracts
  • Pain management
  • Gynaecology
  • Lung and chest
  • +7 other treatments covered
$83.34
per month
essentials basic plus
Basic Plus$750 excess
  • Rehabilitation
  • Joint reconstructions
  • Dental surgery
  • Hernia and appendix
  • Eye excluding cataracts
  • Pain management
  • Gynaecology
  • Lung and chest
  • +5 other treatments covered
$84.10
per month
  • Rehabilitation
  • Joint reconstructions
  • Dental surgery
  • Hernia and appendix
  • Eye excluding cataracts
  • Pain management
  • Gynaecology
  • Lung and chest
  • +7 other treatments covered
$84.73
per month
Basic Plus Hospital $750/$1500
Basic Plus$750 excess
  • Rehabilitation
  • Joint reconstructions
  • Dental surgery
  • Hernia and appendix
  • Eye excluding cataracts
  • Pain management
  • Gynaecology
  • Lung and chest
  • +3 other treatments covered
$85.23
per month
Basic Plus Hospital $500
Basic Plus$500 excess
  • Rehabilitation
  • Joint reconstructions
  • Dental surgery
  • Hernia and appendix
  • Eye excluding cataracts
  • Pain management
  • Gynaecology
  • Lung and chest
  • +6 other treatments covered
$85.92
per month
  • Rehabilitation
  • Joint reconstructions
  • Dental surgery
  • Hernia and appendix
  • Eye excluding cataracts
  • Pain management
  • Gynaecology
  • Lung and chest
  • +5 other treatments covered
$86.21
per month
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What is hospital only health insurance?

Hospital only health insurance allows you to be treated as a private patient at hospital, often with your choice of doctor. It's available in 4 tiers – gold, silver, bronze and basic – and pays a share of your medical costs when you're admitted to hospital, including accommodation and theatre fees.

How does hospital cover work?

If you receive an in-hospital service as a private patient, Medicare typically covers 75% of the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) fee. Your private health cover will pay the remaining 25%.

However, a doctor or specialist won't always stick to the MBS fee set by the government as a fair fee for a service or treatment. In this case, you'd have to pay an out-of-pocket fee known as "the gap".

Some insurers have deals with healthcare providers that mean all or some of the gap is covered by your health fund.

Hospital cover only helps with items that are on the MBS. If the treatment you want isn't on the MBS, you won't get help from private hospital cover.

Couple looking at bills

Save on your insurance: June 2023

10 health funds have upped their prices since 1 April. Some 38% of health insurance customers are facing higher bills (as of 1 June). That's more than 5.5 million Australians.

The price increases make now a great time to look for better-value health insurance. The switching process between funds is simple. You typically won't have to re-serve any waiting periods.

See the latest health insurance deals for June 2023.

What are the main benefits of hospital cover?

piggy-bank

Tax benefits

There can be tax benefits if you earn over $90k as a single person or $180k as a couple. You can avoid paying the Medicare levy surcharge with a basic hospital policy.

Lifetime health cover loading

It's cheaper to buy by age 31

The Lifetime Health Cover loading is a penalty that applies to anyone who takes out private health insurance after their 31st birthday. The loading increases by 2% for every year you don't have hospital insurance.

hourglass

Shorter waiting times

Elective surgery waiting times are typically much shorter than public hospitals. Keep in mind though that you'll have to wait 12 months if your condition is pre-existing.

surgeon

You get your choice of doctor

You often get to choose your own doctor, when you're treated and your own room in a private hospital, where possible.

Ambulance

Ambulance cover

Medicare doesn't cover ambulance transport, except in Tasmania and Queensland. A basic hospital policy can cover you though. There are also ambulance-only policies from $1.50 a week.

James Martin

Why Finder's insurance editor got hospital insurance

My wife and I earn over the MLS threshold and we live in NSW, so it made sense for us to take out hospital insurance. Now we're saving money by having a policy in place, plus we don't need to worry about an expensive ambulance bill anymore.
— James Martin, insurance editor.

What are the hospital health insurance tiers?

Each health insurance tier covers a standardised set of treatments. Here's a quick summary of each tier.

Gold health cover

Gold hospital cover

Gold-tier hospital insurance covers all 38 treatments outlined by the Australian government. This includes treatments such as joint replacements, pregnancy and insulin pumps as well as all services covered by silver-tier policies.

Average premium: $207.67 a month for a single policy.*
Lowest premium: $153.39 a month for a single policy.*

Silver health cover

Silver hospital cover

Silver-tier hospital insurance covers at least 26 treatments outlined by the Australian government. This includes treatments such as dental surgery, lung and chest and podiatric surgery as well as all services covered by bronze-tier policies.

Average cost: $146.15 a month for a single policy.*
Lowest premium: $102.5 a month for a single policy.*

Bronze health cover

Bronze hospital cover

Bronze-tier hospital insurance covers at least 18 treatments outlined by the Australian government. This includes joint reconstructions, ear, nose and throat and gynaecology treatments as well as all services covered by basic-tier policies.

Average cost: $98.14 a month for a single policy.*
Lowest premium: $84.65 a month for a single policy.*

Basic health cover

Basic hospital cover

Basic-tier hospital insurance isn't required to fully cover any treatments outlined by the Australian government, but it needs to have restricted cover for rehabilitation, hospital psychiatric services and palliative care. Basic cover is primarily used to avoid the Medicare Levy Surcharge and Lifetime Health Cover loading.

Average cost: $85.42 a month for a single policy.*
Lowest premium: $76.38 a month for a single policy.*

*Average prices are updated monthly in line with Finder's database of health insurance policies. Prices are based on a single individual with less than $90,000 income and living in Sydney with a $750 excess.

Hospital health insurance and tax (the MLS and LHC)

There are 2 different government schemes that may cost you money if you do not have hospital cover.

Rich person

Medicare Levy Surcharge

If you earn over $90,000 and don't have hospital cover, you'll be taxed between 1% and 1.5% of your wage due to the MLS. Get a cheap policy and you can avoid the tax.

For a lot of people, the cost of a hospital policy can actually be less than what they'd be taxed if they didn't have it. So even if you don't plan on using private health insurance, it can make financial sense to get a policy anyway.

30 year old

Lifetime Health Cover loading

LHC loading kicks in on 1 July immediately following your 31st birthday. For every year you don't have health insurance from that date, you'll be charged an extra 2% when you eventually do decide to get a policy.

For example, if you wait until you're 41 to get hospital cover, your premiums will be 20% higher than they would have been if you took out a policy before the deadline. Get hospital cover before the deadline and you won't be hit with the penalty.

Waiting periods for hospital cover

The main hospital covers and their waiting periods include the following:

Service coveredTypical waiting period
Emergency ambulance cover1 day
Accidental injury benefit1 day
Acute mental health treatment2 months – a one-time waiver may apply
Rehabilitation2 months
Palliative care (for life-limiting illnesses)2 months
Pregnancy and birth12 months
Pre-existing conditions12 months

Waiting periods vary depending on your policy. The services listed here do not represent a complete list of services covered under all hospital policies. Depending on your fund and policy, you may find many other cover options to match your needs.

What isn't covered by private hospital insurance?

No matter what level of health insurance you get, there are certain things that won't be covered. They include the following:

  • Pre-existing medical conditions within the first 12 months
  • Out-of-pocket costs (that's when your doctor charges more than the MBS item fee)
  • Fees for any specialists you see outside of hospital
  • Any services you receive outside of hospital
  • Any medical treatment that does not have an MBS item number
  • Hospital stays that are longer than 35 days
  • Cosmetic surgery for non-medical reasons

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Frequently asked questions

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6 Responses

    Default Gravatar
    MandyDecember 26, 2021

    I am a senior looking for basic hospital, no extras, and will accept pre existing conditions, or have a short waiting time

      Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JamesJanuary 17, 2022Staff

      Hi Mandy,

      For more specific information – and to compare your options – you can visit our seniors health insurance guide.

      Many of the policy benefits with major funds carry a 2-month waiting period for a number of treatments; however, it’s typically 12 months for pre-existing conditions.

      Often, you won’t need to re-serve a waiting period for a benefit or treatment you held with your previous policy, as long as the treatment’s covered on the same terms with your new policy. However, if the policy you’re switching to has higher benefit limits or cover for the treatment isn’t covered by your original policy, then serving those waiting periods is a must.

      You may want to reach out to a provider directly if you’ve any further questions about their cover.

      Regards,
      James

    Default Gravatar
    JulieDecember 10, 2018

    Need to find health insurance that covers plastic surgery, breast lift and augmentation and lower body lift please.

      Avatarfinder Customer Care
      JeniDecember 14, 2018Staff

      Hi Julie,

      Thank you for getting in touch with Finder.

      A top hospital cover will usually include plastic and reconstructive surgery. Please note that you will need to compare using the filter for ‘cosmetic surgery’ in your health insurance policy (part of hospital cover). It is also important to note that it’s only covered if deemed medically necessary, so best to check each specific surgery with the insurer directly. Not all surgeries are covered in full too – so always best to ask for the specifics.

      You may seek help from one of our health insurance teams on 1300 594 882 to help you fully understand your options when it comes to health insurance for plastic surgery. Also, consider your cover needs and discuss the policies available with your health fund before deciding on the right policy for you.

      I hope this helps.

      Please feel free to reach out to us if you have any other enquiries.

      Thank you and have a wonderful day!

      Cheers,
      Jeni

    Default Gravatar
    CherylJuly 28, 2018

    Which hospital cover insurance is best value option for gastric lap band surgery please

      Avatarfinder Customer Care
      CharisseAugust 3, 2018Staff

      Hi Cheryl,

      Thank you for reaching out to Finder!

      While we can’t recommend specific policies or insurers to our users, you may utilize our page to compare policies from insurers covering weight-loss surgeries such as lap band surgery.

      Please ensure that you carefully read through relevant documents such as Product Disclosure Statements/Terms and Conditions when comparing your options before making a decision to make sure it caters to your needs.

      Cheers,
      Charisse

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