Do you need private health insurance in your 70s?


4 minutes

10 January 2022

An elderly woman laughing with her adult daughter over a cup of tea outdoors

Here’s what HBF members in their 70s claim for the most on hospital and extras insurance.

In your 70s, you’ve well and truly earned the right to relax and enjoy life.

To help you keep doing that, it’s important to take good care of your health and wellbeing.

Private health insurance can help by giving you more choice and flexibility for managing some health issues that might come up.

In this article

Your health in your 70s

In your 70s and beyond, health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, kidney disease, osteoporosis and dementia become more common.1

For some real-life examples of how private health insurance could help, take a look at what HBF members in their 70s claim for.

Popular hospital claims

For HBF members in their 70s, some of the most common hospital cover claims include:2

  • Chemotherapy, radiotherapy and immunotherapy for cancer. Your risk of cancer increases with age, and it’s estimated that by the age of 85, one in two Australians will be diagnosed with some form of it.3  
  • Heart and vascular system. One in six Australians is affected by heart disease, and risk increases with age.4 This category also includes things like varicose vein treatments.
  • Bone, joint and muscle. This includes treatment for musculoskeletal injuries and conditions, such as carpal tunnel syndrome and fractures. Falls are more common for those aged 65 and older, so this may be a handy one to have covered.5
  • Cataracts. A cataract is a clouding of the lens of the eye, which can be treated with surgery to replace the lens with an artificial one.6 Cataracts affect around 50% of people over the age of 50, and by age 80 almost all of us will develop them.6
  • Eye (not cataracts). This includes hospital treatment for other eye conditions, such as glaucoma – a common ageing eye disease and one of the world’s leading causes of blindness.7
  • Digestive system. This category covers investigation and treatment of conditions affecting the digestive system, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), gall stones and haemorrhoids. 
  • Joint replacements. 1 in 3 Australians over the age of 75 has osteoarthritis, the most common reason for a knee or hip replacement.8

Other benefits of private hospital cover

Public hospitals can also be a good option for these treatments. However, there are a few benefits private hospitals can offer you. For example:

  • You can avoid long public hospital waiting lists. In a private hospital, you can often get treated more quickly.
  • You can choose your doctors and specialists. Having a little more choice and control over your treatment can bring you some reassurance.
  • You can get a private room, if one’s available.* This can often make a hospital stay 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

The other part of private health insurance is extras cover. This can give you benefits towards some out-of-hospital health services, like dentist visits, prescription glasses, hearing aids, podiatry and physio appointments.

Some of the most common extras claims among HBF members in their 70s include:2

  • Dental (Preventative and Restorative). This includes your regular check-ups and cleans, plus simple dental work like fillings and extractions.
  • Major dental and implants. This is for more complex dental work like crowns, root canals, dentures, bridges and dental implants.
  • Optical. Get benefits towards prescription glasses to improve your vision. The need for reading glasses (presbyopia) is common as you get older.9
  • Physiotherapy. A physio can help you with aches and pains, mobility issues, and rehabilitation after injury, illness or surgery. Around 1 in 4 people in their 70s experiences back pain.10
  • Chiropractic. A chiropractor can help treat health problems related to the bones, joints and muscles – such as back or neck pain.

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.

Find health cover to suit your needs

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  1. 1HealthDirect – Manage your health in your 70s and older
  2. 2HBF claims data, 2019-2020
  3. 3Australian Institute of Health and Welfare – Cancer in Australia: In brief (2019)
  4. 4Heart Foundation – Key statistics: cardiovascular disease 
  5. 5HealthDirect – Falls and the elderly (2020)
  6. 6Centre for Eye Research Australia – Cataracts (2020)
  7. 7Centre for Eye Research Australia – Glaucoma (2020)
  8. 8Australian Institute of Health and Welfare – Osteoarthritis (2020)
  9. 9Optometry Australia – Presbyopia (2020)
  10. 10Australian Institute of Health and Welfare – Back problems (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.