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How does health insurance extras cover work?

Author: Compare Club

Extras cover is also known as general or ancillary cover, and covers routine out-of-hospital health care services like dental, optical and chiro.

How does health insurance extras cover work?

Compare The Best Private Health Insurance Policies Extras Cover


Extras cover, also known as general or ancillary cover, provides cover for the routine treatments that Aussies tend to use regularly. It’s important to consider whether purchasing extras cover makes sense for you and/or your family, or whether you prefer to pay out of pocket for these regular treatments. This guide outlines which services are covered under extras, what the benefits and limitations are of this cover, and the types of extras cover available in Australia.

Key Points

  • Extras cover is also known as general or ancillary cover. It covers routine out-of-hospital health care services like dental, optical, and chiropractic treatment.

  • Most health funds offer three levels of extras services: basic, mid-level, and top.

  • Be aware of any benefit limits or waiting periods that may apply to your policy as this can affect your claims.

What is extras cover?

Extras cover is sometimes called general or ancillary cover. Its purpose is to provide cover for the routine healthcare costs that happen out of hospital. Extras cover can be purchased as a standalone policy or to complement a hospital policy, and it’s available at different levels of cover. APRA reported that as of December 2022, over 55% of Aussies had extras cover.

What services are covered by an extras policy?

The exact services covered by an extras policy vary between insurers and depend on your level of coverage. It’s worth reading your policy details carefully to ensure that you’re covered for those services you use most often.

Common extras include the following:

  • Acupuncture: Needle treatment for overall health.

  • Chiropractic: Back pain, neck pain, and other musculoskeletal conditions.

  • General Dental: Check-ups, cleaning, fillings, and preventative x-rays.

  • Major Dental: Crowns, bridgework, dentures, and veneers.

  • Hearing Aids: Assistive devices for hearing loss.

  • Optical: Glasses or contact lenses.

  • Orthodontics: Braces and retainers to straighten teeth or realign jaw.

  • Physiotherapy: Joint and muscle pain, sports injuries.

  • Podiatry: Foot pain or injury.

  • Psychology: Diagnosis and treatment for conditions affecting the mind.

  • Remedial Massage: Massage therapy to aid conditions.

  • Speech Therapy: Speech and language problems.


Why do people buy extras cover?

People often think of hospital cover as the insurance they hope they won’t need, while extras cover is in place to subsidise the services they know they’re going to use.

For many Australians, most of their regular healthcare spending doesn’t happen in a hospital; it happens at the dentist, the optometrist, the chiropractor, or the naturopath – all services that can be covered by your extras policy.

With extras insurance, your can get benefits back on the healthcare services you use throughout your year.


Levels of extras cover

Generally speaking, most health funds offer three levels of extras cover.

Inclusions, exclusions, and benefit levels will differ between funds, so it’s worth comparing policies from different funds to find one that suits you and your family.

Basic Level

Best for: singles and couples, young and healthy.

Basic cover is the lowest level of cover and tends to be the most inexpensive. It may include general dental and optical, with a small selection of other extras. Benefit levels are the lowest in basic plans, which means you can claim back a limited amount throughout the year. You may also find that benefit limits are combined across treatments. This means that you have one benefit amount and it can be reached through any combination of extras treatments throughout the year.


Best for: Families with young children and middle-aged people.

Mid-level extras cover is more comprehensive than basic, and includes a wider range of services and treatments. Benefit levels are usually higher, and there may be separate limits for different treatments. This gives you a higher level of overall cover.

Top Level

Best for: Seniors, families with adolescent children, people who use health services frequently.

This top level of extras cover is the most expensive, and also offers the most cover. More expensive treatments such as orthodontics or laser eye surgery may be included at this level. Benefit limits are also the most generous, so you can claim back more during the year.

Can I get a government rebate for an extras policy?

Yes. The Private Health Insurance Rebate is available to people who hold an eligible hospital, extras, or combined policy. The rebate amount you qualify for depends on your income. Your rebate can be claimed as a reduction to your health insurance premium or as a tax offset on your tax return.

Are there waiting periods for extras cover?

Yes, there are usually waiting periods associated with extras cover. These are set by your fund and there may be different waiting periods depending on the benefits. Unlike with hospital cover, there are no portability laws in place to prevent you from re-serving waiting periods on an extras policy with the same level of cover. If you switch to a new fund, you may be required to serve a waiting period that you already served with your previous fund.

However, the good news is that most funds will let you off the hook and waive the new waiting period.

Be aware of benefit limits

Extras claims may be subject to various benefit limits. Again, this will vary by fund and by level of cover. If you’re unsure of your limit or how much you’ve used, it’s easiest to check through your online account or your fund’s app, if they have one. Otherwise, you can contact your fund.

Here are some common limits applied to extras benefits:

Annual limit: The maximum amount you can claim for a service during the year. Unclaimed benefits do not rollover, but reset at the start of the new year (usually 1 January or 1 July but varies by fund).

Sub limit: This is a limit on a service that falls under your yearly limit, and is usually per person. For example, you may be limited to $200 of acupuncture services under a larger umbrella limit of $500 total for natural therapies.

Per-Person limit: Each person covered by the policy may be limited to a maximum benefit level each year.

Overall limit: There may be an overall membership limit that governs the per-person limits on your policy. This is not necessarily the sum of each individual limit, so check with your fund for details.

Lifetime limit: Funds often impose individual lifetime limits on certain expensive services, such as orthodontics or laser eye surgery. These limits carry across all funds and don’t disappear even if you switch funds.

Will extras cover reduce my out-of-pocket expenses?

Extras cover is designed to reduce out-of-pocket expenses for regular health-related services and treatments. What you’ll pay depends on three main factors:

1. What your provider charges for the service you received.

2. Whether or not your provider has an agreement with your fund.

3. Your level of extras cover.

Your extras cover may offer a fixed dollar amount back on services, or you may receive a certain percentage of the fee back.

Compare policies to find a structure and premium price that meets your needs.

This article is opinion only and should not be taken as medical or financial advice. Check with a financial professional before making any decisions.

Top 10 energy & electricity companies in Australia

Author: Compare Club

Here’s our list of the top 10 energy companies, based on customer service, prices, and more. Compare plans and start saving today.

Top 10 energy companies in Australia

Electricity and gas for your home should be easy and affordable. Whether you’re moving or are simply after a better deal, Compare Club will compare Australia’s top energy providers and help you cut your energy bills. Over 1 million Australians worked with Compare Club to lower their household expenses last year, so you know you’re in good hands.

But how do Australia’s leading energy providers stack up? Here’s our guide to Australia’s top 10 energy companies based on company size, benefits, price and more.

Key Points

  • The best way to save money on your electricity bill is by comparing energy plans and making the most of the current offers.

  • Working with Compare Club’s experts is a quick and hassle-free way for you to find out about better deals.

  • Energy companies update their special offers all the time, so it pays to talk through your options with an expert.

Choosing the best energy provider depends on what you’re looking for.

Read on to learn more about the top 10 leading energy companies in Australia:


Sumo Power is Australian owned and operated, with a good reputation for customer service. They also provide internet, so it may be an attractive option for people who like to bundle their services. Choose from three residential plans and seven small business plans, based on where you live or work.

They don’t currently have a rewards program.

Key Points:

  • Excellent customer service rating through Trustpilot reviews

  • Australian owned and operated

  • The ability to bundle internet with your energy

  • Sumo Energy at the time of writing offers electricity and gas plans in NSW and Victoria.

Electricity only plans are offered in Queensland. There are currently no plans available in the ACT, South Australia, Western Australia, Tasmania or the Northern Territory.

SUMO is on Compare Club’s panel.


Nectr is an Australian energy retailer offering Solar, Battery, and Solar + Battery energy bundles with no upfront costs, making your move to renewable energy more affordable. Award winning, Nectr is a finalist in the industry’s 2022 Customer Satisfaction Awards Energy for best rated electricity provider in NSW and QLD.

Nectr is currently ranked among the top 10 greenest energy retailers in Australia, according to the nation’s Green Electricity Guide.

Key Points:

  • Nectr supplies electricity to SE Qld, VIC, NSW and the ACT.

  • Certified carbon neutral.

  • Customers can purchase solar, solar + battery or battery plans bundled with affordable and exclusive electricity rates.

  • Less than 1% of customers lodged complaints in 2022.

Nectr is on Compare Club’s panel.


EnergyAustralia is one of the largest energy retailers in Australia, providing electricity and gas to more than 1.7 million residential and small business customers in Queensland, New South Wales, ACT, Victoria and South Australia. According to the Australian Energy Regulator, Energy Australia answered 66% of its calls in 30 seconds or less. Customers can earn Virgin Velocity Points as well as purchase carbon offsets.

Key Points:

  • States available: New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, ACT, Queensland.

  • Not Australian owned.

  • Rated average by the AER for answering customer calls.

  • 2% of customers complained in 2022.

EnergyAustralia is on Compare Club’s panel.


Founded in 1837, AGL is one of Australia’s oldest companies, today servicing over 4.5 million customers. Customers can link their account with Flybuys, as well as use an energy reporting tool that closely tracks energy usage. The company also offers carbon offsets.

Key Points:

  • States available: New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Queensland.

  • Partially Australian owned.

  • Rated average by the AER for answering customer calls.

  • 2% of customers complained in 2022.

Origin Energy

Origin Energy was established in 2000 and today has over 4.2 million electricity customers. They sell electricity as well as natural gas in Australia. Origin is also involved in exploration operations for natural gas and solar panel installation. Origin has recently committed to halving its carbon emissions by 2032. Customers have access to the Origin App, which lets you see your daily power usage, pay bills and more.

Key Points:

  • States available: New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, ACT, Queensland.

  • Partially Australian owned.

  • Rated average by the AER for answering customer calls.

  • 1% of customers complained in 2020/21.


1st Energy was established in 2014 and currently has almost 40,000 customers. The head office is in Melbourne, and the call centre is in Brisbane. It’s partly Australian owned. The company doesn’t own or operate any coal, gas, solar or wind energy. 1stEnergy was the first retailer to enter the Tasmanian energy market.

Key Points:

  • States available: New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania, Queensland.

  • Australian based, and partly Aussie-owned.

  • One of the smaller energy retailers.

  • 2.6% of customers complained in 2022.

1stEnergy is on Compare Club’s panel.


Not everyone knows that Dodo retails energy services as well as broadband and mobile phones. Dodo Power & Gas serve around 100,000 customers across the country, which is about 1% of Australia’s energy consumer base. Dodo is the trading name of Vocus Energy Group. While there are offices based in Melbourne, the call centres are located in Manila, the Philippines.

Key Points:

  • States available: New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Queensland.

  • Partly Australian owned.

  • Rated good by the AER for answering customer calls.

  • 2.6% of customers complained in 2022.

Dodo is on Compare Club’s panel.

Energy Locals

Energy Locals is not a huge player, only offering electricity to over 46,000 households in 2022, or just under 0.49% of Australia’s residential energy consumers, according to 2021–22 figures. It claims to offer carbon offsets, solar feed in tariffs and smart meter installations. Energy Locals is one of the few energy retailers still offering a fixed fee structure that claims to give you the cheapest usage rates.

Key Points:

  • States available: New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Queensland, ACT and Tasmania.

  • An Australian owned retailer, Energy Locals has headquarters and call centres in Victoria.

  • Rated average by the AER for answering customer calls.

  • 1% of customers complained in 2022, and this number appears to be rising.

Energy Locals is on Compare Club’s panel.


ActewAGL was formed in 2000 when AGL and Icon Water came together in the country’s first utility joint venture. It’s a sister company to AGL (above). The company supplies over 170,000 customers with electricity in the ACT, as well as providing gas to some regional parts of NSW. They answer 62% of customer calls within 30 seconds. ActewAGL offers customers carbon offsets, as well as comprehensive energy efficiency products. Their ‘EvenPay’ service lets members even out the cost of their energy bills with set, regular payments.

Key Points:

  • States available: ACT, New South Wales.

  • Partially Australian owned.

  • Rated average by the AER for answering customer calls.

  • 1% of customers complained in 2022.

ActewAGL is on our panel.


OVO Energy was founded in the UK in 2009 but only established an Australian presence in 2019. Though its operations are still run via the Bristol headquarters in the UK, OVO has a local call centre in Melbourne.

OVO offers renewable energy services and 10% GreenPower energy by default. Customers can choose to upgrade to 100% GreenPower as well. There are also benefits for electric vehicle drivers called OVO Drive, which includes savings of $0.05/kWh off your power bill standard rate when you charge their car between 00:00 and 05:00.

OVO also predicts your annual energy usage then divides this by 12 so you pay the same rate every month by default (a process called bill smoothing). If this leads to your account being in credit, then OVO will pay 3% interest on the balance.

Key Points:

  • States available: Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia

  • Foreign owned.

  • Rated good by the AER for answering customer calls.

  • 1.7% of customers complained in 2022.

OVO Energy is on Compare Club’s panel.


How can I get the cheapest price on my energy?

First, get out your latest energy bill and have a look at your supply and usage charges. This will be your baseline cost to compare with. Next, use Compare Club to compare energy prices from the top energy companies in Australia. They’ll help you find the best deal available.

Which energy companies are Australian-owned?

Here’s a list of all Australian-owned energy companies:

How many electricity providers are there in Australia?

There are 114 electricity providers in Australia. Not all providers are available in all states, so it pays to check before you buy.

What red flags should I look out for with energy providers?

Look out for these red flags:

  • Poor customer service (long waiting time or poorly trained staff).

  • A large number of complaints to the energy regulator.

  • Bad reviews online.

  • Unexpected rise in billing amounts.

  • Mistakes on your bill, such as an incorrect meter number.

If you’re having trouble with your energy provider, you can contact the energy ombudsman scheme in your area. Find out more here.

If you want to switch energy providers, Compare Club can help you compare companies and find a better price.

What is the difference between a tier 1 and tier 2 energy retailer?

  • Tier 1 retailers hold more than a 10% market share in the network region. Tier 1 retailers include Origin Energy, AGL and EnergyAustralia.

  • Tier 2 retailers are the remaining retailers who hold less than 10% market share in a network region.

They are typically privately-owned retailers like 1st Energy.

What’s the best energy company?

This really depends on what state you live in, your household’s particular energy usage needs, and what you value. It’s best to compare your options from multiple retailers, particularly as the industry continues to evolve and new offers enter the market. Don’t forget, being larger in size doesn’t automatically mean the ‘best’ or cheapest deals.

Find the best energy deals in your state in Compare Club’s state guides below:

This guide is opinion only and should not be taken as financial advice. Check with a financial professional before making any decisions.

References Green Electricity Guide Ratings 2021. Australian Energy Regulator, Annual Retail Markets Report, 2020-21, November 2021. Powershop, Carbon Neutral Certification, November 2021. Canstar, Which energy companies are Australian owned, November 2021.

What you need to know before you change energy providers

Author: Compare Club

Bills are going up and, in many households hit hard by financial pressures, so are stress levels. But it is possible to reduce some expenses, simply by changing energy providers after locking in a better deal. 

What You Need To Know Before You Change Energy Providers

To help you trim your utility bills, we spoke with Compare Club’s general manager of utilities, Paul Coughran, to find out what you need to know before you change energy providers. Picking up the phone to ask your utility provider a few important questions is the best way to begin, he says.

3 questions for your energy provider

Start with these three questions, so you can compare which energy provider can actually save you money.

1. How does my (current/new) plan compare to the energy reference price for my state or distribution zone? 

  • All energy companies must provide you with a reference price that gives an apples-for-apples comparison.

  • While nothing beats getting a full bill comparison – the reference price provides an easy way to check you how competitive your offer is

2. Does this plan suit my circumstances? 

You may already be receiving other benefits or rewards related to your energy plan, including;

  • solar feed in tariff

  • bundled discount with your broadband

  • rewards program

  • a fixed-rate plan (similar to locking in your home loan interest rate).

You want to make sure that your new plan also meets your needs.

3. Is this the best offer you can give me?

Make sure you check that the offer you are given is the best available from that retailer. They are obliged to tell you! And for people who are keen to change energy providers for reasons other than price, understanding how to research whether your potential provider actually walks the talk on ethics, sustainability, customer service delivery – or whatever other factors you care about – matters. To find out, Mr Coughran says asking them is often the quickest way to unpack all of this information, without feeling overloaded or confused. 

“If you prefer to do your own research, you can look at the energy retailer website, Trustpilot or Facebook for reviews,” he says. If your decision to change providers is based purely on price and you’re looking for a practical way to save money on your future bills, there are some key numbers to compare to ensure you really are switching to a good deal. Again, Mr Coughran says it’s all about “the energy reference price in that particular distribution zone”.

And he gives an example from Red Energy, to explain:

  • Qantas Red Saver delivers the best value today. 4% discount + Qantas points.

  • The Living Energy Saver is the same, without Qantas Points.

  • The Red Fixed Saver provides the best peace of mind, because the rates are fixed until January 2024. (Just like locking in your interest rates.)

“Lastly,” Mr Coughran says, “I would assure customers not to stress. “Energy companies can’t lock you into a contract with penalty fees. You can always change later, if unhappy.”

The bottom line

If you suffer from a pathological fear of picking up the phone to actually talk to your energy provider, or you are worried about being bamboozled by all the numbers to do with rates and charges, there is another way. Although understanding how to read your utility bills is good info to have up your sleeve, simply visiting a comparison site makes understanding how to make the switch easy. And with Compare Club claiming to help you save as much as *$443 on your energy bills, what are you waiting for?

Financial disclaimer: The information contained on this web page is of general nature only and has been prepared without taking into consideration your objectives, needs and financial situation. You should check with a financial professional before making any decisions. 

Health insurance and tax: What you need to know.

Author: Compare Club

When it comes to health insurance & tax in Australia, there’s a lot to get your head around. Learn how health cover can help you save $$$ at tax time. 

Health insurance & tax: what you need to know


When it comes to health insurance and tax in Australia, there’s a lot of confusing jargon to wrap your head around. What is the Medicare Levy Surcharge and do you need to pay it? How can the health insurance rebate affect your tax refund?

This guide simplifies health insurance and tax, including how your private health cover can help you save some dollars at tax time.

How does private health insurance affect my tax bill?

 To help ease the burden on our public healthcare system, the Australian Government has several initiatives in place to encourage people to get private health cover. The three main ones are:

  • The private health insurance rebate

  • The Medicare Levy Surcharge (MLS)

  • The Lifetime Health Cover (LHC) loading

Each of these can affect your tax bill and insurance premiums in different ways. The result is that you can end up getting a bigger tax refund by having health cover, paying more tax if you don’t, or paying higher insurance premiums the longer you wait to get health cover.

What is the private health insurance rebate?

The private health insurance rebate is essentially a partial refund or discount the government gives you on your health insurance premiums. Think of it as a reward for having private health cover. 

If you’re eligible, you can get the private health insurance rebate on hospital cover, extras cover, or both. The rebate is income-tested, which means the amount you get back depends on how much you earn.

Rebate rates for singles for the 2023/2024 financial year:

Income for the 2022/2023 financial yearAge < 65Age 65-69Age 70+
Base Tier$93,000 or less24.608%28.710%32.812%
Tier 1$93,001-$108,00016.405%20.507%24.608%
Tier 2$108,001-$144,0008.202%12.303%16.405%
Tier 3$144,001 or more0%0%0%

Rebate rates for couples, families and single parent families for the 2022/2023 financial year:

Combined income for the 2022/2023 financial yearAge < 65Age 65-69Age 70+
Base Tier$186,000 or less24.608%28.710%32.812%
Tier 1$186,001-$210,00016.405%20.507%24.608%
Tier 2$216,001-$288,0008.202%12.303%16.405%
Tier 3$288,001 or more0%0%0%

Source: ATO
Find out how much your rebate would be with Compare Club’s health insurance rebate calculator.

How do I claim the private health insurance rebate?

 There are two ways you can get your private health insurance rebate:

  • It’s paid directly to your health fund, giving you an upfront discount on your premium.

  • It’s paid through your tax return, as a discount on your income tax.

If you want to claim the rebate as a discount on your insurance premiums, you’ll need to give your health fund your estimated income so they can calculate the upfront discount for you. Alternatively, you can claim the rebate as a refund when you lodge your tax return.

What is the Medicare Levy Surcharge (MLS)?

 The Medicare Levy Surcharge is a percentage of your income that’s payable to the ATO when you lodge your tax return. It was introduced by the Australian Government to encourage high income earners to get private health insurance.

You’ll need to pay the MLS if you don’t have private health cover and earn more than $93,000 as a single person, or $186,000 as a family (including couples and single-parent households).

The rate charged is between 1% and 1.5% of your income, depending on how much you earn.

MLS income thresholds and rates for 2022-23:

Threshold Base TierTier 1Tier 2Tier 3
Single threshold$90,000 or less$90,001 - $105,000 $105,001 - $140,000 $140,001 or more
Family threshold$180,000 or less $180,001 - $210,000$210,001 - $280,000$280,001 or more
Medicare Levy Surcharge0%1%1.25%1.5%

Source: ATO

What’s the difference between the Medicare Levy and the Medicare Levy Surcharge (MLS)?

 The Medicare Levy Surcharge is payable by people who earn more than the MLS threshold and don’t have private hospital cover. 

The Medicare Levy is payable by most Australian taxpayers, regardless of whether or not you have private health insurance. It’s 2% of your taxable income, in addition to the tax you pay on your taxable income.

You don’t have to pay the Medicare Levy if you earn less than $23,365 (or $38,365 for seniors and pensioners). If you’re eligible to be charged the MLS, you’ll need to pay it in addition to the Medicare Levy. This means that without private health cover, you could be paying an extra 3.5% of your income in tax every year.

What is the minimum level of health insurance required to avoid the MLS?

 To avoid paying the MLS, you’ll need health insurance that includes:

  • Private patient hospital cover

  • A maximum excess of $750 for singles and $1,500 for couples or families

Generally speaking, having a basic tier of private hospital cover is enough to avoid paying the MLS. Keep in mind, though, that this level of cover might not offer all the benefits you’re looking for. That’s why it’s a good idea to compare different levels of cover from different health funds to find the one that fits your specific needs.

What is Lifetime Health Cover (LHC) loading?

Lifetime Health Cover (LHC) loading is a government initiative intended to encourage Aussies to get private hospital cover earlier in life. Although not directly related to tax, it’s an important consideration if you’re weighing up whether or not to get health insurance. If you don’t get hospital cover before 1st July following your 31st birthday, you’ll pay a 2% Lifetime Health Cover ‘loading’ on hospital cover. This means a 2% additional cost is added to your hospital cover premiums for every year you go without cover. For example, if you wait until you’re 40 to get hospital cover, you’ll be looking at paying an additional 18% on your premium. Loading is capped at 70% and stops after 10 years of continuous hospital cover.

How to avoid Lifetime Health Cover (LHC) loading:

 You can avoid paying the LHC loading by taking out hospital cover before 1st July following your 31st birthday. If you’re over 31, getting health insurance sooner rather than later can help you minimise the percentage of LHC loading you have to pay.

The government also allows ‘Days of Absence’, which means you can take a break from having hospital cover for a total of 1094 days, or switch policies, and still avoid the LHC loading. 

Why get health insurance before tax time?

In short, it could help you save on your tax bill. If you earn more than $93,000 as a single person, or $186,000 as a family, taking out hospital cover as a minimum can help you avoid the Medicare Levy Surcharge, as well as giving you access to the health insurance rebate. You can compare policies side-by-side to find a level of cover that suits your needs and helps you save at tax time. Ask the Compare Club specialists today.

This guide is opinion only and should not be taken as medical or financial advice. Check with a financial professional before making any decisions.

When it comes to health insurance & tax in Australia, there’s a lot to get your head around. Learn how health cover can help you save $$$ at tax time.