Latest News: September 2015

1.1   Latest News – September, 2015

The ongoing sustainability of the health system has been at the forefront of the Government’s thinking over recent months with the primary care and MBS reviews moving forward. The continuation of Health Minister Sussan Ley MP in the health portfolio has provided continuity in this space and hirmaa is supportive of the Government’s search for efficiencies in health funding.

The discussion paper released by the Primary Health Care Advisory Group provided a number of options to revamp the delivery of primary care services and is of particular interest to hirmaa members, given the potential for greater private health insurance involvement in primary care. hirmaa submitted to this review and in particular, argued that a greater focus should be placed on the accurate collection, sharing and usage of patient-data and that the sharing of data should extend to private health insurers.

Insurers have a commercial relationship with over 55% of the population and as such are well placed to encourage the empowerment of members in navigating the health system. This requires greater access to patient information.

The Health system has also been at the forefront of the Council of Australian Governments’ discussions and a number of proposals, with the potential to impact on the private health system, have been discussed.  hirmaa is working hard to emphasize the importance of competition and choice within the private health insurance marketplace and in particular, of the critical role played by the member owned, community based and restricted access funds.

hirmaa believes that any reform discussions involving private health insurers, must also consider the supply-chain in private health, being private hospitals, medical practitioners and medical device suppliers. hirmaa will continue to push this message as the health-funding debate unfolds.

1.2   Member satisfaction results

hirmaa has received the aggregate results of the 2015 Member satisfaction research, conducted by Discovery Research.

In 2015, 13 hirmaa funds participated in total, with 17,901 survey responses received.

The aggregate overall satisfaction rate was consistent with 2014, at 98%. This is a terrific achievement and explains why hirmaa funds tend to out-pace industry average growth and experience lower annual lapse rates.

1.3   Other news – 2015 conferences


The PHI system in Australia operates in a dynamic regulatory environment. For this reason alone, hirmaa conducts quarterly general meetings to allow constituent funds to stay abreast of the expectations of and changes implemented by the Federal Government and its agencies.

The first of these meetings in 2015 was held in Melbourne on 11 March. At this meeting, we were delighted to have both APRA and the Commonwealth Ombudsman in attendance. Keith Chapman, Executive General Manager, gave an excellent presentation concerning APRA’s approach to regulation while Mr Colin Neave AM, Commonwealth Ombudsman, also addressed the membership giving a highly valuable overview of the work of the Commonwealth Ombudsman and his intentions with respect to PHI.

JB Were provided a forum style update on the state of the domestic and global economies and David Torrance of dbn actuaries complemented this with an excellent presentation on the state of the private health sector in Australia.

The Department of Health’s presentation focused on the status of machinery of government changes in the industry, which complemented the presentation provided by Aaron Kloscko, Senior Associate, Maddocks which focused on the legal implications of the legislation facilitating these machinery of government changes.

In Canberra on May 13, we were grateful to have both APRA, PHIAC and the Department of Health in attendance. We were also delighted to have the Minister for Health, the Hon. Sussan Ley MP open the event and provide her vision for the health portfolio.

The membership was also able to hear from Australian Medical Association President A/Prof Brian Owler who led a thought-provoking discussion on primary care and the role of private health insurers.

In Adelaide on August 26, Professor John Mattick, Executive Director of the Garvan institute of medical research provided a fascinating keynote presentation on the future of research into genomics and its potential impact on the health sector. We also heard from Ms Delia Rickard, Deputy Chairperson of the ACCC, Telstra Readycare, APRA and the Department of Health.