Health funds deliver lowest premium increase in 18 years

Matthew Koce, CEO of Members Health, the peak body for 25 of Australia’s not-for-profit, member owned and community based health insurers, has welcomed today’s announcement of the lowest private health insurance premium increase in 18 years.

“The average increase of 3.25 per cent represents the fifth consecutive year that premiums have fallen, and is an exceptional result for consumers, Government and insurers alike,” Mr Koce said.

Health insurers have worked hard to keep premiums as affordable as possible. This is the smallest average premium increase since 2001 and is much lower than inflation for medical and hospital services, at 4.1 per cent.

The private health insurance industry has worked tirelessly with the Government over the past two years on the introduction of its far-reaching reforms, which aim to improve both affordability and value for consumers.

“Today’s announcement of a historically low premium increase is a clear reflection of that joint effort,” Mr Koce said. “Members Health congratulates the Minister for Health, Greg Hunt MP for his commitment to working with industry throughout the reform process.”

“It is important that consumers make decisions about health insurance based on the level of coverage, not just cost. The Government’s reforms help do just that, by making comparing policies easier while also improving affordability, especially for younger people.”

“We are very optimistic about the Government’s reforms and pleased that all sides of politics acknowledge the value of Australia’s uniquely mixed public and private health system.”

Only the private health system guarantees fast access to high quality care, when needed, avoiding long public hospital waiting lists that can run into the months and years.

“The value of Australia’s private health system, which services more than half of the country’s population, cannot be overstated,” Mr Koce said.

Insurers have managed five years of declining premium increases against a backdrop of rising benefits levels. In contrast, Commonwealth funding for public hospitals is increasing by about 7 per cent per annum.

More than 40 per cent of all procedures take place in private hospitals – taking pressure off the already overstretched public system; Australia is home to the world’s leading medical practitioners and institutions; and the country’s private health insurance industry is among the best in the world.

Mr Koce said the not-for-profit, member owned and community based health fund sector is committed to continuing engagement with the Government in 2019 to find new and innovative ways to further improve value for Australian families.

Australia’s not-for-profit, member owned and community based health insurers exist only to serve their policyholders. They consistently run on wafer thin margins, return around 90 cents in the premium dollar back to consumers as benefits, and outperform on customer satisfaction and retention.

“Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the excellent value for money offered by the Members Health funds, which as a group, are growing at over double the industry average. With 37 health funds to choose from, it makes sense to shop around and the not-for-profit, member owned and community based health funds can represent excellent value for money.”

“The alliance of Members Health funds exist only to serve policyholders, so are entirely committed to passing all savings directly on to consumers.” Mr Koce said.

The latest premium round will come into effect on 1 April 2019.

Members Health is the peak industry body for 25 health insurers which are not-for-profit, member owned and community based. In all, the Members Health funds provide private health insurance to over 2 million Australians.

Media Contact:
Eddie Morton
Media and Policy Manager
(03) 9896 9372