Lifetime Health Cover is an Australian Government initiative that came into effect on 1 July 2000. Under Lifetime Health Cover, people who join a hospital cover earlier in life and maintain their hospital cover will pay lower premiums throughout their life compared to someone who joins later in life. For example, someone who joins at 30 years of age will pay a lower premium compared with someone who first joins at 50 years of age.
The lowest hospital premium you can pay is called the base rate premium. To qualify for the base rate premium, a person needs to take out hospital cover before 1 July immediately following their 31st birthday. People who join after this date will pay an additional premium loading of 2% (in addition to the base rate premium) for each year they are over the age of 30, up to a maximum loading of 70%.
If a Lifetime Health Cover loading has been applied to your premium, it can be removed after you have held hospital cover for a continuous period of 10 years.
People born on or before 1 July 1934 can join a registered health insurer at any time and always qualify for the base rate premium. Other special provisions apply to people who were overseas when Lifetime Health Cover was introduced, people who were overseas when they turned 31, migrants, people covered by a Department of Veterans' Affairs Gold Card and members of the Australian Defence Force.
Lifetime Health Cover only applies to hospital cover, it does not apply to general (extras) cover.
On 1 July 2013, the Australian Government introduced a change to remove the Private Health Insurance Rebate from any Lifetime Health Cover loading that may apply to a policy, meaning that as from 1 July 2013, the rebate only applies to the base rate premium of a private health insurance product.