Skip to content
Healthslips logo
Greenslips logo
Reviewed and updated 25 April 2023

What are the health insurance options for veterans?

If you are a veteran, you have 3 options for your healthcare.

Option 1:

Australian Department of Veterans’ Affairs

Find out whether you are eligible for comprehensive healthcare support through the Australian Department of Veterans’ Affairs, including free or low cost:

  • general practitioner services
  • medical specialist services, including pathology and radiology
  • allied health services, including:
    • chiropractic
    • optical
    • physiotherapy
  • dental services
  • community nursing
  • care in public and private hospitals including day procedures centres
  • home support services
  • subsidised medicines under the Repatriation Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (RPBS)
  • medical aids and appliances.

Option 2:

Medicare

If you are not eligible for healthcare support or eligible for only partial support from the Department of Veterans Affairs, you can rely on the public health system (Medicare). This is cost effective but means you have less choice about the healthcare you receive and  have to pay out of your own pocket for treatments not covered by Medicare

Option 3:

Veterans private health insurance

You can take out private health insurance, you can:

  • choose your doctor or specialist
  • avoid long waiting lists in the public health system for elective surgery
  • get your own room in hospital if one is available
  • receive help to pay for treatments that Medicare does not cover, including:

Option 1: Australian Department of Veterans Affairs

Am I a veteran?

Traditionally, the term ‘veteran’ referred to former Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel who served in war or war-like environments.

This definition now covers anyone who has experience in the Australian Defence Force (ADF), including permanent, reserve and former (ex-serving) personnel.

The definition is broader because it is now accepted that Australian Defence Force (ADF) members have unique experiences in the military that can affect their health and wellbeing, compared to the rest of the Australian population.

I served in the armed forces, am I eligible for free healthcare?

If you served in the armed forces, you may be eligible for free or subsidised healthcare.

The Department of Veterans’ Affairs provides 3 health cards for veterans:

  1. Veteran Gold Card
  2. Veteran White Card
  3. Veteran Orange Card.

Each offers a different level of healthcare. Your eligibility for a card depends on your service.

Veteran Gold Card

What is a Veteran Gold Card?

The Veteran Gold Card gives you access to clinically required treatments for all medical conditions.

These may include:

  • treatment at a hospital or day procedure facility
  • treatment provided by a General Practitioner (GP) or medical specialist
  • treatment provided by an allied health professional
  • treatment by a dentist or optometrist
  • medicines at a cheaper concession rate
  • community nursing
  • pathology and medical imaging.

These treatments are usually free.

You can also receive a range of other services, including:

  • counselling
  • home help
  • medical aids, equipment and modifications
  • travel to and from medical appointments
  • care services.

These services are usually for free or at low cost.

Am I eligible for a Veteran Gold Card?

You can find out from the Australian Government Department of Veterans’ Affairs whether you are eligible for a Veteran Gold Card.

If you are a war widow or orphan, you may also be eligible for the Veteran Gold Card.

Veteran White Card

What is a Veteran White Card?

The Veteran White Card gives you access to medical treatment for:

  • accepted service-related injuries
  • all mental health conditions (or veterans will continuous full-time service and certain reserve service).

If you are eligible, the Veteran White Card can also give you access to medical treatments for:

  • cancer (malignant neoplasm) covered under non-liability healthcare
  • pulmonary tuberculosis covered under non-liability healthcare.

These may include:

  • treatment at a hospital or day procedure facility
  • treatment provided by a General Practitioner (GP) or medical specialist
  • treatment provided by an allied health professional
  • treatment by a dentist or optometrist
  • medicines at a cheaper concession rate
  • community nursing
  • pathology and medical imaging.

These treatments are usually free.

You can also receive a range of other services, including:

  • counselling
  • home help
  • medical aids, equipment and modifications
  • travel to and from medical appointments
  • care services.

Am I eligible for a Veteran White Card?

You can find out from the Australian Government Department of Veterans’ Affairs whether you are eligible for a Veteran White Card.

Veteran Orange Card

What is a Veteran Orange Card?

The Veteran Orange Card gives you a concession rate for prescription medicines, wound care items and nutritional supplements.

You cannot use your Veteran Orange Card to access medical or other healthcare treatment.

Am I eligible for a Veteran Orange Card?

You can find out from the Australian Government Department of Veterans’ Affairs whether you are eligible for a Veteran Orange Card.


Option 2: Medicare

Like all Australians, you can rely on the public health system Medicare for your health needs.

You can receive a wide range of medical treatments for free or at a lower cost.

However, if you rely on Medicare, you cannot choose:

  • the doctor who treats you in a public hospital
  • the treatment you receive
  • when you receive that treatment.

You have less choice about the treatments you receive and may have to join long waiting lists for elective surgery.

 You have to pay out of your own pocket for treatments not covered by Medicare, including:


Option 3: Veterans Private Health Insurance

In Australia, veterans private health insurance is private health cover for veterans.

You have the option of taking out:

There are no specific private health insurance products for veterans as there are for Singles, Couples, a Family or Single Parent. However, some insurers offer Hospital Cover or Extras Cover policies that are tailored to veterans.

Are there health insurers that specialise in providing private health insurance for veterans?

Yes. There are 2 private health insurers that specialise in private health insurance for veterans:

Both are not-for-profit insurers and restricted funds.

You can join Defence Health only if you are a:

  • partner or child of an Australian Defence Force (ADF) member
  • previous Australian Defence Force (ADF) member
  • current or former employee of an Australian Defence Force (ADF) supporter, including:
    • Department of Defence
    • Defence-related department
    • a Defence-supplier.

You can join Navy Health only if you are a:

  • serving or ex-serving member of the ADF (Army, Navy, Air Force)
  • ex-dependant of a serving or ex-serving member of the ADF
  • employee of the Department of Defence
  • employee of organisations contracted to provide services to the Department of Defence
  • employee of the Australian Public Service providing services to the ADF or the Department of Defence
  • current member of the ADF Reservists
  • current member of the ADF Cadets.

You may also be able to join Navy Health if you are a partner, child, grandchild, parent or sibling of anyone listed above or someone who was a member of Navy Health on 12 October 2007.

How much does private health insurance cost for veterans?

Prices

For singles:

  • Hospital Cover starts at around $100 per month
  • Extras Cover starts at around $15 per month
  • Combined Hospital and Extras Cover starts at around $115 per month.

For couples:

  • Hospital Cover starts at around $200 per month
  • Extras Cover starts at around $30 per month
  • Combined Hospital and Extras Cover starts at around $230 per month.

Key factors affecting the cost of private health insurance for veterans

Ultimately, the cost of private health insurance for veterans depends on the tier of Hospital Cover/or extent of Extras Cover, your age, income, where you live, excess payable and any co-payments:

  • Extent of Extras Cover
    • If you have not taken out Hospital Cover before the age of 31, you will have to pay the Lifetime Health Cover Loading, which is 2% per year for every year you have not taken out cover. 
    • Your income: if your income is $140,000 or less, you may be eligible for the Private Health Insurance Rebate, which gives you a discount on:
      • Hospital Cover
      • Extras Cover
      • Ambulance Cover.

If you earn over $90,000 per year and do not have Hospital Cover, you may have to pay the Medicare Levy Surcharge.

  • Where you live because you will pay more if:
    • you live in an area where there is a higher rate of claims
    • your state or territory charges more for hospital services.
  • Higher excess: applies if you want to pay this in exchange for a lower premium
  • Co-payment: applies if you want to make a contribution for every day you are in hospital in exchange for a lower premium.

What is the best private health insurance for veterans?

To find the best veterans health insurance for you, ask yourself these questions:

Q1: What do you want from your health insurance?
  • Do you want more choice than Medicare provides?
  • Are your health needs increasing so you want a higher level of cover?
  • Do you want health insurance to reduce your tax bill only?
Q2: What type of health insurance do you need?
  • Hospital Cover
  • Extras Cover
  • Combined Hospital and Extras Cover
  • Ambulance Cover Only.
Q3: If you want Hospital Cover, what Hospital Cover tier do you need?

Hospital Cover tier:

  • Basic
  • Bronze
  • Silver
  • Gold.

You may want a higher level of cover because your health needs are increasing as you get older.

Q4: If you want Extras Cover, what treatments do you need and are likely to use?

There is no point taking out Extras Cover if you are not going to use it.

Q5: For Extras Cover, what are the limits on the policy?

Check the policy for:

  • claim limits: how many claims you can make for a particular treatment?
  • annual limits: how much you can claim each year?
  • lifetime limits: how many claims you can make for a particular treatment over the life of the policy?
Q6: What is your budget?
  • Does the cover you have selected fit within your budget? 
  • Are you eligible for the Private Health Insurance Rebate?
  • Do you have to pay the Lifetime Health Cover Loading?
Q7: Will you have to pay an excess if you make a claim on Hospital Cover?
  • How much is the excess
  • Will you be able to afford the excess if you make a claim?
Q8: Will you have to make a co-payment if you make a claim on your Hospital Cover policy?
  • How much is the co-payment?
  • Will you be able to afford the co-payment if you make a claim?
Q9: Does the policy have waiting periods?

Check the policy to find out:

  • What is the waiting period before you can make a claim for a particular Hospital Cover clinical category?
  • What is the waiting period before you can make a claim for a particular Extras Cover treatment?

How can I compare health insurance for seniors?

Use our Calculator to find the best and cheapest health insurance for you.

We compare every insurer and policy.

We can also give you a personalised price on your health insurance because our Calculator helps you calculate whether you:

  • can save on your health insurance because you are eligible for the Private Health Insurance Rebate and/or the Age-based Discount
  • have to pay the Lifetime Health Cover Loading.

How we’re different

We promise

  • Compare every insurer and
    every policy
  • No commercial bias on prices
    and information
  • Cheapest price guaranteed
  • Free open access

We calculate

  • A price for a new policy
  • A comparison of your existing policy
  • Your Government Rebate,
    Age-based Discount and
    Lifetime Health Cover Loading
calculate your cheapest health insurance
advertisement
calculate your cheapest health insurance calculate now