The latest report from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has downplayed the extraordinary lengths that private health insurers have gone to care for members throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
The health insurance industry has committed hundreds of millions of dollars towards customer support and hardship measures including premium deferrals, waivers, discounts or suspensions, expanded benefits coverage for COVID-19 related treatments and increased telehealth services.
The industry has returned more than $500 million to members through the pandemic crisis, with Members Health funds committing more than $250 million.
“The quick response to the COVID-19 pandemic by the private health insurance industry – particularly the not-for-profit and member-owned funds –is to be commended,” said Members Health CEO Matthew Koce.
“The 26 Members Health funds are run for people, not for profits. That means any profits go straight back to benefit policyholders,” Mr Koce said.
While the ACCC noted declines in participation in private health insurance to June 2020, it failed to acknowledge that during that same period, the 26 Members Health funds actually grew 2.7 per cent while the rest of the industry shrunk.
In the following three months to September, the entire industry experienced growth, recording a 0.3 per cent (104,106) increase in people with hospital cover.
“Australians are turning to health insurers for certainty and peace of mind at this time, and it is no wonder why,” Mr Koce said. “Private health cover not only provides the fastest available access to high quality care, it also takes pressure of public hospitals, freeing up beds for those that need them most.”
COVID-19 has had a profound impact on public hospital waits, which are now extending beyond a year for many surgeries, so it has never been more important to have private health cover.
“We are enormously proud of the private health system’s ability to provide fast access to high quality care for conditions that required urgent treatment during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Mr Koce.
“As COVID-19 restrictions have eased, the private health system has moved quickly to catch up on non-urgent elective surgeries and we strongly encourage people not to delay their medical checks and GP visits.”
“Conditions such as skin cancers require fast treatment and our private hospitals and medical professionals have done an amazing job,” Mr Koce said.
“At this point, with public hospitals stretched to catch up on hundreds of thousands of elective surgeries, what could be more important than knowing you and your family are protected with fast access to high quality health care? It’s never been more important to have private cover.”
Members Health is the peak industry body for an alliance of 26 health funds that are not-for-profit or part of a member-owned group, regional or community based. They all share the common ethic of putting their members’ health before profit. Our funds represent the interests of more than 3 million Australians.
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