Lifetime Health Cover (LHC) is an initiative set up by the government to encourage Australians to get hospital insurance earlier and maintain their cover.
If on July 1 – following your 31st birthday – you don't have a hospital cover with an Australian registered health fund and decide to take one out later in life, you will pay two per cent loading on top of your premium for every year you are aged over 30.
For example if you take hospital cover out at 45, you will pay 30 per cent more than someone who organised cover at age 30.
The maximum loading specified by the government is 70 per cent.
People born on or before July 1 1934 are exempt from the LHC and can join a health insurer at any time, paying the same premium as someone who opts for cover at age 30.
There are also some special circumstances for Australians aged 31 and overseas, those travelling to Norfolk Island, people in the Australian Defence Forces (ADF) and those who hold a Department of Veterans' Affairs (DVA).