500,000 Australians dumped or downgraded their private health insurance last year and now Health Minister Sussan Ley wants to know why.
Official figures show Australians are looking for cheaper cover with exclusions and excesses, and now the Turnbull Government has launched a national public consultation that will ask people about their views on private health insurance and how they think it can deliver better value for money.
According to Minister for Health Sussan Ley, there is a flow-on effect from Labor’s successive cuts to the value of the private health insurance rebate, which included means-testing and restricting indexation to CPI, not premium growth.
This meant hundreds of thousands of Australians prepaid their policies for up to three years in 2012 just before the first of Labor’s cuts came into effect in order to delay their impact.
“I’m deeply concerned the true pain of Labor’s multi-billion private health cuts is only now being felt by consumers as their prepaid policies expire and bill shock kicks in,” Ms Ley said.
“A longer-term trend of premium increases above inflation across successive governments also suggests there is a something wrong with the regulatory foundations of our private health system.
“Either way, consumers are angry, confused and I’m concerned that simply shopping around is no longer enough to get the best value for money.
“Private health insurance is a fundamental part of our health system for Australians of all ages and income types, with half the population having some form of cover.
“We need to ensure this hard work isn’t undone by Labor’s cuts and the increasing flood of ‘junk’ policies that offer nothing more than a bed in a public hospital.
“This Government is committed to recalibrating the private health system so that value for money for consumers returns to being its core focus and we’re interested in the views of everyday Australians on how best to do that”.
Ms Ley said any changes needed to be delivered by conceding the Medicare and public hospital systems remained “universally” accessible to all Australians and private health was seen as complementary to services
“It’s important we’re able to ask consumers what they expect from their private health insurance and there’s plenty of room to do that without moving towards US or UK models that exclude sick people and make it only available to the rich, which we don’t support.
“Consumers can have their say via our online survey: www.health.gov.au/PHIconsultations2015-16.”
Consultation will run until Friday 4 December 2015.
Tell us, are you paying too much for your health insurance? Is it worth the money?