The Alliance of Members Health funds welcomes the Australian Senate’s decision to pass the Government’s reforms aimed at improving affordability and reducing complexity in private health insurance.
Members Health CEO Matthew Koce described the Senate’s approval of the Private Health Insurance Legislation Amendment Bill 2018 as a win for consumers and an unprecedented demonstration of strong bipartisan support in the Parliament for the private health system.
“Health insurance plays a vital role in more than 13.5 million Australians’ lives, and making it more affordable and easier to understand for consumers has always been the top priority of our funds,” Mr Koce said.
The reforms passed by the Senate allow for premium discounts of up to 10% for people aged under 30 and cover for travel and accommodation costs under hospital treatment policies. They also allow for the introduction of new Gold/Silver/Bronze and Basic product tiers that make product categorisation easier to understand, and provide strengthened inspection and audit powers for the Private Health Insurance Ombudsman.
“These reforms are the culmination of two years of work with Government, health insurers, hospitals, clinicians and consumer groups all coming together to help find ways to further improve the private health system.”
“The new product tiers will make it much more straightforward for consumers to shop around and find the best hospital treatment product that meets their individual needs.”
“Young people are also going to be much better off. Many younger Australians need health insurance for dental, optical and hospital but cannot afford it and are instead forced to sit on public hospital waiting lists that can run into the years.”
“Younger Australians face mounting cost of living pressures, such as housing affordability and university debts, and simply looking after one’s health should not add to that stress. Allowing health insurers to offer discounts to younger Australians will help them gain peace of mind around access to fast high quality care that is available when they need it.”
Members Health funds are not for profit, member owned or community based. They represent Australia’s military families, teachers, police, nurses and doctors. Many are headquartered in key regional communities such as Townsville, Cessnock, Lithgow, Wollongong, Newcastle, the Latrobe Valley, Mildura, Burnie and Launceston, just to name a few.
“Allowing funds to cover travel and accommodation in hospital products is a major win for Australians living in these rural and regional areas,” Mr Koce said.
Mr Koce said the approval by the Senate represents the success of the working relationship between the Government and private health insurance industry.
“With about half the Australian population holding private health insurance and 41% of all procedures taking place in private hospitals, it is crucial to ensure the sustainability of the industry.”
“Last year private health insurers paid $20 billion in health care services – costs that would otherwise have to be paid for by taxpayers.”
“Even a small decline in private health insurance participation could have a devastating impact on the already stretched public system and government finances.”
“The Senate’s approval came after months of Government consultation with the private health industry and is a testament to that ongoing working relationship.”
Members Health is the peak industry body for 23 health insurers which are not-for-profit, member-owned and community based. In all, the Members Health funds provide private health insurance to over 1.7 million Australians.
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