What is Lifetime health cover loading?

The Lifetime health cover loading was introduced by the Australian Government in July 2000 to encourage people to take out private hospital insurance at a younger age and maintain it over time.

How does Lifetime health cover loading work?

Once you turn 31, you’ve got until the following 1 July to buy private hospital cover and avoid paying the loading.

For every year you delay, you may have to pay an additional 2% (up to a maximum of 70%) on top of the cost of your private hospital cover. The good news is that the loading doesn’t last a lifetime. Once you have held private hospital cover for 10 continuous years, the loading will be removed.

For example, if your private hospital cover costs $1000 per year
Buy cover at age 31
Wait until you turn 50
0% Lifetime health cover loading

Once you turn 31, you’ve got until the following 1 July to buy private hospital cover

Up to 40% Lifetime health cover loading

For every year you delay, you may have to pay an extra 2% for your private hospital cover

$0 extra Lifetime health cover loading a year

As long as you maintain your private hospital cover, you’ll avoid paying any Lifetime health cover loading

About $400 extra Lifetime health cover loading a year

The longer you delay, the more it can cost—up to a maximum of 70% loading

$0 extra Lifetime health cover loading over 10 years

Enjoy the benefits of private hospital cover without having to pay extra loading

About $4000 over 10 years

You can get the same level of cover, it can just cost you more for the first 10 years

So it makes good sense to get your private hospital cover sorted out before any Lifetime Health Cover loading kicks in!

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Does everyone have to pay?

The Lifetime health cover loading applies if you didn’t have private hospital cover

  • on 1 July 2000, OR
  • by 1 July following your 31st birthday, whichever is later

There are some exceptions, for example if you have recently migrated to Australia or were overseas on 1 July following your 31st birthday. You can call Australian Unity on 13 29 39 or refer to the Private Health website for information about all exclusions and special considerations that apply.

How does Lifetime health cover loading affect couples and families?

If you and your partner have been without cover for different lengths of time, your Lifetime health cover loading will be calculated by averaging out the two.

For example, if you’re paying a 4% loading, and your partner has a 10% loading, that will be averaged out to 7% on a couple or family policy.

What happens when you switch to a new health fund?

The old fund will provide your new health fund with a transfer certificate. This certificate has information about your previous cover including your Lifetime health cover loading plus details about any waiting periods you’ve already completed, so that these can be applied to your new cover.

That means that your Lifetime health cover loading moves with you.

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Can you get time off (for good behaviour)?

Gaps in hospital cover

To cover small gaps in private hospital cover, such as switching from one fund to another, you are able to be without private hospital cover for up to 1094 days (one day less than three years) during your lifetime, without affecting your loading.

Suspending your private hospital cover

If your health fund agrees to suspend your private hospital cover for a short period (for example, while you go on an overseas vacation), your Lifetime health cover loading is not affected and the suspension period isn’t counted towards your 1094 days of absence.

Going overseas for 1 year or more

If you’re moving overseas for a continuous period of 1 year or more, you can cancel your private hospital cover without affecting your Lifetime health cover loading. You can even come back to visit Australia for a period of less than 90 days without it affecting your loading.

Are you covered?


All of Australian Unity’s private hospital covers can help avoid Lifetime health cover loading. (Note that extras only cover does not exempt you from Lifetime health cover loading.)

It only takes a few minutes to get a free health insurance quote

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Still got questions about Lifetime health cover loading?
  • Call Australian Unity on 13 29 39 if you have any questions about how the Lifetime health cover loading affects your health insurance premium or if you’d like us to request a transfer certificate from your previous health fund.
  • Visit the Private Health website or ATO website to find out more about Lifetime health cover loading.
  • Contact your registered tax agent if you have any specific tax-related questions.