Private health funds to put premium increases on hold amid Covid-19 pandemic

Mar 30, 2020
Private health insurance premiums were set to rise next month. Source: Getty.

Major health funds have announced they will postpone their premiums scheduled for April 1 for at least six months in response to the pandemic. Private Healthcare Australia chief executive Dr Rachel David confirmed the news on Sunday morning.

“This is a continuing process and health funds will be regularly reviewing their financial position in the coming months to provide as much support as possible to members,” Dr David said. “It is a tough time for all Australians and circumstances are changing rapidly. We will do all we can to support our members and the Australian community.

“At the same time health funds also need to maintain the government’s legislated capital adequacy requirements and must remain in good shape so we can fund the backlog of elective surgery that will certainly occur in 6 to 12 months’ time.

Non-urgent elective surgeries like hip replacements and cataract surgery have been cancelled for the time being because of the coronavirus crisis. Meanwhile, many dentists are already cancelling check-ups, while physiotherapy sessions and other extra services will be impacted by social distancing measures.

Dr David has urged members whose financial circumstances have changed to talk to their health fund before considering downgrading or dropping their health cover. Some health funds are offering financial relief to those most in need, including people who have lost their jobs, are underemployed or have contracted the virus.

Under the new measures, all hospital policies from basic to gold will include full hospital coverage for people affected by Covid-19, people experiencing financial hardship as a result of the crisis will be able to access relief from premium costs, and health funds will cover telehealth services from psychologists and other allied health professions.

Health funds will continue to provide access to and reimburse emergency dental services and will direct members needing access appropriately, while they are also putting in place special arrangements to allow more hospital in the home services and more remote access services for members at particular risk.

Meanwhile, some health funds, including HBF, have waived the premium increase for 12 months. It comes as Australia’s largest insurer, Bupa announced today it would be delaying the annual April 1 premium increase for all customers for six months.

“We recognise that all our customers are being impacted in some way, and today’s decision to delay the annual premium increase by six months, provides further relief,” Bupa Australia and New Zealand chief executive officer Hisham El-Ansary said.

“Customers don’t need to take any action — we will put the changes through our systems and update customer accounts accordingly.”

IMPORTANT LEGAL INFO This article is of a general nature and FYI only, because it doesn’t take into account your financial or legal situation, objectives or needs. That means it’s not financial product or legal advice and shouldn’t be relied upon as if it is. Before making a financial or legal decision, you should work out if the info is appropriate for your situation and get independent, licensed financial services or legal advice.

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