Private health insurance premiums are set to increase an average of 6 per cent from April, but the Federal Government says the costs to patients could have been much higher.
Health Minister Sussan Ley asked private health insurers to provide more information to justify premium rises earlier this year.
She said 20 of the Australian funds subsequently lowered their premium increase requests.
“Overall, consumers will be $125 million better off as a direct result of our request for insurers to resubmit lower premiums, saving an average family with combined hospital and general health cover as much as $166 per year,” she said.
Half a million Australians dropped or downgraded their private health insurance in the last financial year.
In response, the Minister last year launched an online survey asking consumers for their views on what services should be covered by policies and how they could deliver better value for money.
Ms Ley said 40,000 Australians responded to the survey, with “the majority raising concerns about the affordability of their premiums and the value for money they received from their policies”.
“Private health insurance is a fundamental element of our health system,” she said.
“It’s therefore important we act now to ensure it continues to deliver value for money for consumers both short and long term.”
Private health funds are likely to face much more scrutiny about just what insurance policy holders are paying for.
The Government wants greater transparency around private health insurance policies, including reviewing so-called “junk” products, confusing terminology and hidden payments for consumers.
Medical devices in the spotlight
The cost of medical devices are also review, with Ms Ley setting up a working group of doctors, patients and industry members.
The review will examine the prices paid for devices such as hip and knee replacement devices and pacemakers.
Ms Ley said the cost of devices were impacting premiums.
“It’s easy to see the negative impact on premiums when a pacemaker for a private patient currently costs their insurer $43,000, despite the same device only costing $17,000 if they were treated as a public patient,” she said.
How much will you pay for your private health insurance?
|Insurer name||Approved premium increase|
|ACA Health Benefits Fund||6.19 per cent|
|Australian Unity Health||5.05 per cent|
|BUPA Australia Pty||5.69 per cent|
|CBHS Health Fund||5.92 per cent|
|Cessnock District Health Benefits Fund||6.19 per cent|
|CUA Health||8.95 per cent|
|Defence Health||5.48 per cent|
|Doctors’ Health Fund||3.76 per cent|
|GMHBA||5.44 per cent|
|Grand United Corporate Health||4.26 per cent|
|Health Partners||7.14 per cent|
|HBF Health||4.94 per cent|
|Hospitals Contribution Fund of Australia||5.42 per cent|
|Health Care Insurance||6.90 per cent|
|Health Insurance Fund of Australia||6.55 per cent|
|Health.com.au||8.81 per cent|
|Latrobe Health Services||5.52 per cent|
|MiIdura District Hospital Fund||6.74 per cent|
|Medibank Private||5.64 per cent|
|Navy Health||5.50 per cent|
|National Health Benefits of Australia Pty||5.28 per cent|
|NIB Health Funds||5.55 per cent|
|Lysaght Peoplecare||4.38 per cent|
|Phoenix Health Fund||5.72 per cent|
|Police Health||4.81 per cent|
|Queensland Country Health||4.91 per cent|
|Queensland Teachers’ Union Health Fund||7.15 per cent|
|Reserve Bank Health Society||5.37 per cent|
|Railway & Transport Health Fund||5.61 per cent|
|St Luke’s Medical & Hospital Benefits Association||5.89 per cent|
|Teachers Federation Health||4.97 per cent|
|Transport Health||6.49 per cent|
|Westfund Ltd||5.94 per cent|