Putting members’ health before profit

Restoring full private health insurance rebate seen as key to slashing surgery backlog

The Australian newspaper reports on calls to reverse the erosion of the private health insurance rebate by Members Health Fund Alliance.

Members Health Fund Alliance – the peak body for 25 not for profit and member-owned private health funds – has called on the federal government to help slash the public hospital elective surgery backlog by restoring the rebate back to 30 per cent.

The Alliance’s CEO, Matthew Koce said the most efficient way to support the public health system is to help more Australians access private health insurance, helping to free up public hospital beds for those that need them most.

“It would be really beneficial for the whole system if the federal government would restore the rebate back to 30 per cent as it was originally. It would save families hundreds of dollars a year on many policies,” he said.

The private health insurance rebate is a tax incentive in which the government contributes a proportion of the cost of an individual or families’ private health insurance premiums.

It was introduced in 1999 at the rate of 30 per cent to people aged under 60, and increased to 40 per cent for the over-70s. Along with other tax levers, it resulted in the take-up of private cover lifting from 30 per cent to about 48 per cent of the population.

The rebate was subject to means testing from 2012, and in 2014 the scheme was changed so that the rebate was no longer calculated as a fixed proportion of the premium but rather indexed to CPI or the yearly premium increase, whichever was lower.

Read the full story by The Australian’s Natasha Robinson.