About private health insurance

Why go private?

Over 50% of Australians have private health insurance—even though Medicare provides us with one of the best public healthcare systems in the world.

That’s because private health insurance provides increased choice, convenience and flexibility.

For example, in the case of elective surgeries:

Public Patient
Private Patient
Waiting List

You’re on the Public Hospital waiting list, so it might be months before you can have your surgery. 

Choice of Times

Schedule your surgery in a Private Hospital at a time that suits you and your doctor. 

Allocated Hospital

You’ll be told which public hospital to attend for your surgery.

Hospital Choices

Talk to your doctor and health fund about suitable hospitals, and then choose the one that’s right for you. 

Appointed Doctor

The hospital will appoint the doctor who will perform your surgery.

Choice of Doctor

Feel reassured by choosing the  doctor to perform your surgery.

Shared Room

For most surgeries, you’ll be in a shared room with other patients.


Many private hospital covers offer private rooms. 

Other benefits of going private

Private health insurance also provides cover for services generally not included under Medicare like dental, optical, physiotherapy, chiropractic, remedial massage and natural therapies. Many people use their private health cover to get access to services they may not otherwise be able to afford.

Plus the Australian Government has introduced a number of different measures over the years—including a rebate, a loading and a surcharge—all aimed at encouraging more people to go private. See What’s it all going to cost? to find out more about the money side of things.

So if you’re after peace of mind, shiny white teeth and spending less on government levies and surcharges, private health insurance is a smart choice.

How does Private Health Insurance work?

There are two types of private health insurance:

Hospital insurance

Covers all or some of the costs of hospital treatment as a private patient (in both public and private hospitals) including doctor’s charges and hospital accommodation.

Extras insurance

Covers treatments generally not available under Medicare, including dental, optical, physiotherapy, chiropractic and natural therapies.

You can purchase hospital only insurance, extras only insurance, or combined hospital plus extras cover.

As a general rule, the more expensive the health cover you choose, the more hospital procedures and extras treatments will be included and the more money you’ll get back when you claim.

What cover is right for you? 

Health insurance is not a one-size-fits-all proposition.

Needs change depending on things like lifestyle, life stage, health issues and financial situations. That means that a single 30-year-old looking for basic hospital and extras cover will have a different list of requirements to a young couple planning on having their first child. 

Choosing health cover can be confusing and even a bit overwhelming. That’s why most health funds provide tools on their websites to help you choose the cover that’s right for you. Or if you prefer to talk to someone, you can get advice over the phone. (You can call Australian Unity on 13 29 39.)

What's it all going to cost?

Let’s start by looking at the Australian Government incentives and surcharges that affect the price you pay, and were designed to encourage more people to buy private health insurance.

Australian Government Rebate on Private Health Insurance

This is an income-tested rebate that most Australians with private health insurance receive. It helps to reduce the cost of health insurance for both hospital and extras covers.

Medicare Levy Surcharge (MLS)

Can add between 1% and 1.5% of your income to your tax bill if you don’t have an eligible private hospital cover and you earn over $90,000 (for singles) and $180,000 (for couples and families).

Read more

Lifetime Health Cover (LHC) loading

Can add an extra 2% loading for each year you’ve gone without hospital cover over the age of 30 (up to a maximum of 70%), and takes 10 years of continuous hospital cover to remove.

Read more

All Australian Unity hospital (and hospital plus extras) covers help you avoid or reduce the MLS and LHC loading , so it’s not just the rebate that’s helping you to save money.

Government incentives and surcharges aside, it’s important to choose a level of cover that meets both your health and financial needs.

Don’t shop by price alone though—cheapest does not always equal best value. You’ll often find that paying just a little extra each month can actually end up saving you money, because you’re covered for more services that you’ll actually use.

After adding up the money you can receive back in claims, and considering whether any of the Government's incentives and surcharges described above apply to you, you may find that health insurance is a lot more affordable than you expected.

Got more questions?

If you’ve got questions about something that’s not covered here, check out our Private Health Insurance FAQs.

Or you can give us a call on 13 29 39. We’re here from to answer your questions from 8:30am until 8:00 pm AEST on business days.

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