Do you need private health insurance in your 50s?


4 minutes

10 January 2022

A happy couple laughing together on the couch

Are you thinking about the future? Here’s what HBF members in their 50s claim for the most on hospital and extras cover.

In your 50s, health often becomes a bigger focus – whether you’ve experienced some health issues, or you’re just thinking ahead.

So how could private health insurance help?

It’s an individual decision whether it’s worth it to you, but private health insurance can help give you a feeling of more choice, control and confidence for managing health issues that might come up. 

In this article

Your health in your 50s

In your 50s, preventative health becomes more important than ever, as your risk of conditions such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease increases.1

That means it’s essential to stay on top of your regular check-ups and health screenings, and keep an eye on things like your weight, blood pressure and cholesterol levels.1

So what about private health insurance? To get a picture of how private cover could help you, it can be useful to look at what other people in your age group are claiming for.

Popular hospital claims

First, let's look at hospital cover. For HBF members in their 50s, some of the most commonly claimed hospital treatment categories include:2 

  • Chemotherapy, radiotherapy and immunotherapy for cancer. It’s important to know that cancer risk increases with age, and one in two Australians will be diagnosed with cancer by age 85.3
  • Heart and vascular system. 1 in 6 Australians has cardiovascular disease, and risk for this also increases with age.4
  • Digestive system. This covers investigation and treatment of issues of the digestive system – such as gall stones, haemorrhoids and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
  • Gastrointestinal endoscopy. Similarly, this category is for treatment and investigation of the gastrointestinal system using an endoscope (a long, thin tube with a camera attached).
  • Bone, joint and muscle. A common claim across all age groups, this includes treatment for conditions and injuries of the musculoskeletal system, such as bone fractures.2
  • Hospital psychiatric services. This includes hospital treatment for mental illnesses, eating disorders and addictions.

Other benefits of private hospital cover

Of course, you can also choose to have these treatments in a public hospital.

However, there are a few benefits of private hospital treatment to consider. For example: 

  • You have more choice. In a private hospital, you can choose your specialist. 
  • You can avoid public hospital waiting lists. You can often be treated sooner in a private hospital, potentially saving you some stress and discomfort. 
  • You can get a private room, if one’s available.* Staying in hospital is rarely fun, but having a room to yourself can make it a bit more comfortable.

Having private hospital cover can also mean you avoid the Medicare Levy Surcharge.

This is a tax applied to high income earners (over $93,000 or $186,000 for couples and families) who don’t have an appropriate level of private hospital cover. 

Popular extras claims

Extras cover can help with some of the more everyday, out-of-hospital health services that you might be juggling – things that Medicare generally doesn’t cover.

For HBF members in their 50s, some of the most-claimed extras services are:2

  • Dental (Preventative and Restorative). This includes your regular check-ups and scale and cleans, along with things like fillings and extractions.
  • Physiotherapy. Getting older can come with a few more aches and pains – one in four people aged over 45 experiences back pain, for example.5 A physio can help treat this, along with things like recovery from injury and mobility issues.
  • Chiropractic. Similarly, many HBF members in their 50s choose to see a chiropractor, who can help with issues relating to the musculoskeletal system.2 
  • Optical. Get benefits towards prescription glasses and contact lenses – which one in two Australians needs. 6 In your 50s, it’s also common to need reading glasses due to presbyopia (age-related long-sightedness).7
  • Major dental and implants. As you get older, you’re more likely to claim for more complex dental work, such as crowns, root canals, bridges, implants and dentures.2

For parents

If you have kids, private health insurance can also provide extra choice and convenience for treatments that may be needed.

Popular hospital claims

At HBF, some of the most popular hospital claims for children and teenagers include:1

  • Ear, nose and throat
  • Tonsils, adenoids and grommets
  • Dental surgery
  • Hospital psychiatric services
  • Bone, joint and muscle

Extras cover claims for things like dental, optical, physio and chiro are also common for children and teenagers.1

It’s important to know that not all levels of hospital cover and extras cover include the treatments and services described in this article. To find out more about levels of cover, check out HBF cover options.

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  1. 1HealthDirect – Manage your health in your 50s (2020)
  2. 2HBF claims data, 2019-2021
  3. 3Australian Institute of Health and Welfare – Cancer in Australia: In brief (2019)
  4. 4Heart Foundation  – Key statistics: cardiovascular disease
  5. 5Australian Institute of Health and Welfare – Back problems (2020)
  6. 6Australian Institute of Health and Welfare – 1 in 2 Australians affected by eye problems (2015)
  7. 7Optometry Australia – Presbyopia (2020)


This article contains general information only and does not take into account the health, personal situation or needs of any person. In conjunction with your GP or treating health care professional, please consider whether the information is suitable for you and your personal circumstances.

*For the treatment of included services at Member Plus hospitals only.