Are you turning 31 soon or have you already passed that age milestone? If so, it’s important to know about Lifetime Health Cover (LHC) loading and how it may affect your private health insurance. Here we’ll explain what LHC is, how it works, and how it can impact your healthcare costs. We’ll also provide some tips on how to compare private health insurance plans to find the best coverage for your needs.
What is Lifetime Health Cover?
The Australian Government has an initiative called Lifetime Health Cover (LHC) that encourages young people to take out private hospital cover sooner rather than later. This is because the more people who have private health insurance, the less strain there is on the public health system.
How does it work?
If you don’t have hospital cover by 1 July following your 31st birthday and choose to take it out later in life, a loading of 2% will be added to your hospital cover premium for every year over the age of 30 you were without it. This means that if you wait until you’re 35 to take out hospital cover, your premium will be 10% higher than it would have been if you had taken it out at 31. If your birthday is in the second half of the calendar year, you’ll have until July 1 in the following year to purchase hospital cover prior to the 2% loading being applied. So as an example, if you turned 31 in October, you won’t have to pay the extra 2% loading until 1st of July the following year.
How is LHC calculated for couples and families?
If you’re on a couples or family private health policy, the LHC loading is calculated by taking an average of the loadings applied to the adults on the hospital cover. So, for instance, if one person has an 18% loading and their partner has no loading, the loading applied is 9% overall.
Calculate your LHC loading
To determine your Lifetime Health Cover loading on your hospital cover simply visit this easy calculator.
What if I switch health funds?
Your LHC loading goes with you when you switch private health funds. If you’re switching to a new fund, it’s a good idea to maintain your hospital cover until the date that you transfer to avoid using up any of your permitted days without cover unnecessarily.
What if I’m going overseas?
If you’re going to be out of Australia for 2 to 24 months, you can apply to suspend your private health cover. Your LHC loading level will not be affected, if your request is approved. You’ll avoid waiting periods for pre-existing hospital conditions when you return to Australia.
Exemptions for LHC
- Exemptions for the LHC loading include:
- If you were born before 1 July 1934
- If you are overseas on 1 July following your 31st birthday*
- If you are over 30 years of age and were overseas on 1 July 2000*
- If you are a member of the Australian Defence Force
- If you are a Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) Gold Card holder*
*You will be required to take out a level of Private Health Insurance within a certain amount of time on your return. Contact us for more detail.
Can my LHC loading be removed?
Your LHC loading can only be removed once you’ve paid the loading for 10 continuous years. Once your 10 years is up, the loading may be reapplied if you choose to drop your hospital cover and take it up again in the future. It’s best to check with your private health insurer regarding these conditions.
Lifetime Health Cover loading: Key takeaway points
- It’s best to get private health insurance (hospital cover) before 1 July after your 31st birthday. This will help you avoid a 2% surcharge on your health insurance premiums, which you’ll have to pay for every year you don’t have hospital cover.
- This surcharge can add up quickly and reach a total of 70% once you turn 65, but it won’t increase beyond this point.
- The LHC loading surcharge will be removed if after 10 consecutive years you maintain an adequate level of private health insurance.
For more tips if you’ve never had private health insurance visit our blog to learn what you need to get started.