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What Are Health Insurance Waiting Periods? | A Handy Guide

You’ll have heard about them when purchasing a policy, but many Australians don’t fully understand them. So, what are health insurance waiting periods?

Health insurance waiting periods refer to the amount of time that has to pass after joining an insurance policy before you are able to claim cover for certain costs. The government sets the maximum waiting period that can be imposed on hospital treatment. For general treatment, the waiting periods are set by each health insurer.

What Are the Different Waiting Periods?

The standard waiting period varies depending on your health insurer, type of cover and the procedure. Generally speaking, the more costly the claim, the longer the waiting period.

If, for example, you were to purchase extras health cover, you may have to sustain a waiting period of about two months before you can claim for a dental check-up. However, the waiting period before you can claim for a more complicated surgery, like wisdom teeth removal, would be much longer.

It’s important to be aware of these waiting periods when purchasing a policy. Health insurers stringently enforce their waiting periods, which means you should do your research thoroughly before committing to a policy. 

Why Do We Have Health Insurance Waiting Periods?

If you’ve ever complained about the cost of insurance, you can thank waiting periods for keeping you from paying even more expensive policy prices.

Waiting periods prevent a situation where someone signs up to insurance just to claim for a significant cost right away and later cancels their policy. If some people rigged the system like this it would drive the price of insurance up for other customers.

When Do Waiting Periods Apply?

You may need to abide by a waiting period in a variety of situations, including when:

  • You are a new customer of a health insurance company
  • You have re-joined your health insurance after cancelling, or
  • You have upgraded your policy to include new benefits

However, you won’t always have to undergo a waiting period. If you are switching between health insurance providers and claiming less or similar benefits, your waiting period will be waived by law for hospital related treatments.

Typically, you will bypass the waiting period for general treatments too if you have already undergone a waiting period for a similar policy with another insurer.

If you suspend your policy temporarily, the days in which your cover is suspended will not count towards your waiting periods.

Which Fund Has the Shortest Waiting Periods?

Like price, level of cover and benefits, waiting periods are just another element of health insurance that varies from policy to policy. With so much to compare when deciding on your policy and provider, it makes sense to get the experts to do it for you.

Sally Writes 29 Nov 2020

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