250,000 didn’t renew health insurance in past 12 months; 53% say too expensive

More than 250,000 people did not renew their private health insurance during the 12 months to March this year, according to the latest annual Roy Morgan survey involving 50,000 face-to-face interviews with consumers, including 20,000 private-health-insurance-fund members.

The 256,000 finding was up on last year’s 182,000, making it the highest level of cancellations in five years.

Being “too expensive” is the main reason that consumers give for dropping out of health insurance, which has risen to 53.3% over the year, up from 47.1% in the previous year.

The second major concern among those who didn’t renew is to do with the gap in coverage by their fund. In the current year there was a big increase in the proportion saying that their major reason for leaving was “too much out-of-pocket expense” with 19.1%, up from 12.8% last year.

Nearly one in six (15.5%) of members who didn’t renew said “Medicare suits my needs”, up from only 5.3% last year. It appears that there are an increasing number of people seeing no real value in having private health insurance, given its cost and perceived benefits over simply relying on Medicare.
Over the year there was also an increase in concerns regarding service, with 11.6% saying that they didn’t renew because of “poor service’”, up from 2.3%

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By | May 20th, 2018|Health insurance|

Novartis’ top legal counsel quits over payments to Trump lawyer’s private company

Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis on 16 May announced the retirement of its group general legal counsel, Mr Felix Ehrat, as he apologised for payments made by the company to United States President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Mr Michael Cohen.

The announcement came after Novartis was dragged into the scandal over Mr Cohen’s payment of $US130,000 to US adult film actor Ms ‘Stormy’ Daniels just days before the 2016 presidential election.

On 9 May, Novartis said it had signed a one-year contract for $US100,000 a month with Mr Cohen’s firm in February 2017, seeking advice on the new Trump administration’s public health policy.

Following a meeting with Mr Cohen, the company changed its mind, although Novartis was contractually obliged to pay him the full $1.2 million.

US special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating the payments as a strand of his wider investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and allegations of collusion and obstruction of justice by the Trump campaign.

Mr Trump originally denied having an affair with Ms Daniels, who goes by her stage name rather than her real name of Stephanie Clifford, more than a decade ago. But one of the newest members of Mr Trump’s legal team, former federal prosecutor and New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, has

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By | May 20th, 2018|Business|

Chain tops consumer survey of optometrists

Eyecare Plus has taken top spot in Canstar Blue’s 2018 customer satisfaction ratings for optometrists, recording five stars in most research categories, including service and advice, range of products and after-sale service.

The report on the survey said 14% of adults admitted that they get their eyes tested less frequently than every two years with another check-up; the majority of respondents said they get their eyes checked every one to two years (60%), while 22% do so every six to 12 months and 3% visit their optometrist every six months, or more frequently.

Sixty-three per cent of Australians said they always visit the same optometrist, with good customer service and support the most common reason for doing so, well ahead of convenience and price.

The report said:

  • Eyecare Plus was the only chain to score five stars for overall satisfaction, while also earning top marks in most other research areas.
  • Budget Eyewear, OPSM, Optical Superstore and Specsavers all achieved four stars overall, with Optical Superstore standing out with five stars for service and advice and value for money.
  • Big W Optical and Laubman & Pank both received just three stars overall, with a mix of four and three stars across the board.

Additional information: www.canstarblue.com.au/health-beauty/optometrist/.

By | May 20th, 2018|Business|

Optometry Australia says it increased media coverage by 33% in past 3 years


Optometry Australia says it has increased its media coverage over the past three years by 33 per cent with much of the coverage focused on raising awareness of eye health.

Editorial coverage since 2014-15 has risen to 363 pieces to date this financial year and the organisation is confident of achieving additional quality articles by 30 June, the association says.

The increase aligns with goals within the organisation’s strategic plan to promote optometry, optometrists and community eye health, the association says.

It also supports Good vision for life’s consumer campaign goals which aim to highlight the need to have regular eye examinations throughout life and to motivate consumers to book an eye examination.


By | May 20th, 2018|Associations|

Britain’s Marks and Spencer enters optical retail

 British retail giant Marks and Spencer is to trial optician practices in five of its stores, Optician magazine reports.

The in-store concessions will be run by Galaxy Optical and branded as M&S Opticians.

The five locations are: Bolton, York, Derby, Manchester and London’s Westfield White City.

A spokesperson for Marks and Spencer said: “As part of our transformation plan we’re adapting our UK store estate to better appeal to our existing customers and attract new ones.

“One way we’re repositioning space is welcoming concessions into M&S stores. We’re already running a trial with Wasabi in our Foodhalls and now we’re extending this program with M&S Opticians.

“Working with an expert partner, Galaxy Optician Services, we’ll be carefully monitoring the trial.”

Concessions are scheduled for opening in the northern summer.

By | May 20th, 2018|Business|

Ulysses comments …


The Roy Morgan survey’s finding, reported on 17 May, that 53 per cent of the 256,000 people did not renew their private health insurance cover on costs grounds in the year to March comes as no surprise.

The people who did so attributed their decision to seeing no real value in having private health insurance, given its cost and perceived benefits over simply relying on Medicare.

Even with all of the private-health-insurance cover in the world, the gaps continue to increase alarmingly between fees charged and the miserable benefits paid, whether it’s for in-practice procedures or for in-hospital, so much so that any concept of an affordable universal health scheme has largely become a dream.

The rot set in when several major private health funds were demutualised by the suits and listed on the sharemarket, such as Medibank Private and NIB, and/or bought by bigger companies, such as British fund Bupa.

That means a profit margin has to be included in their operations and results so as to keep shareholders happy, otherwise they would turn on the suits (a.k.a. directors and senior staff} and boot them out.

It’s little if anything to do with health, rather the interests of the suits and those they command.

Regrettably, more and more like America every day.


Big noting

How’s this for

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By | May 20th, 2018|Comment|

Pharmaceutical company’s subsidiary made payments to company owned by Trump’s lawyer

Novartis Investments SARL, a subsidiary of Swiss-based multinational pharmaceutical giant Novartis, made four payments of $US99,980 each to a United States company, Essential Consultants LLC, owned by Mr Michael Cohen, a lawyer for the President of the United States, Mr Donald Trump.

The four payments were made between October 2017 and January 2018.

Novartis – whose chief executive was among 15 business leaders invited to dinner with Mr Trump at the World Economic Forum in January – spent more than $US10 million on lobbying in Washington last year and frequently seeks approvals from federal drug regulators.

Novartis said in a statement that its agreement with Essential Consultants has expired.

Mr Cohen created Essential Consultants in Delaware less than two weeks before he completed his deal with porn actress Stormy Daniels (real name Stephanie Clifford), who is now contesting her contract with Mr Cohen as invalid. He initially said he paid her out of his own pocket by way of a home equity line of credit.

But last week, former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani of New York said that Mr Trump had reimbursed Mr Cohen through several $35,000 monthly transactions that amounted to more than $400,000 – covering the payment to Ms Clifford and, he said, other “incidental” expenses.

By | May 16th, 2018|Business|

New chief for Optometry Western Australia

Mr Evan MacRae has been appointed chief executive officer of Optometry Western Australia, succeeding Mr Tony Martella, who was in the role for 13 years. Mr Martella has been appointed to a position with the Australian Medical Association.

The president of Optometry WA, Mr Rob Howie, said Mr MacRae’s career spans the mining, health care, business management and advocacy sectors.

“There are also plenty of opportunities to work more closely with politicians and the business sector – particularly mining and resources – to raise awareness of eye health”, Mr MacRae said.

By | May 16th, 2018|Associations|

IACLE Announces Worldwide Winners of Annual Awards

The International Association of Contact Lens Educators has announced the winners of the 2018 IACLE Contact Lens Educator of the Year Awards, which recognise and reward achievement in contact lens education.

IACLE has also announced the recipients of the 2018 IACLE Travel Awards for members to attend major international meetings.

Through sponsorship from CooperVision, four IACLE Contact Lens Educator of the Year Awards will be presented to IACLE members in each of IACLE’s three global regions.

The 2018 IACLE Contact Lens Educators of the Year will receive their awards at the American Academy of Optometry’s Academy 2018 meeting in San Antonio, Texas, in November.

The winners are IACLE Americas Contact Lens Educator of the Year – Professor Lyndon Jones, University of Waterloo, Canada; IACLE Asia Pacific Contact Lens Educator of the Year – Associate Professor Runa Mazumder, Vidyasagar College of Optometry & Vision Science, Kolkata, India; and IACLE Europe/Africa – Middle East Contact Lens Educators of the Year – Wim Borst, Deltion College, Zwollen, the Netherlands, and Henri Eek, Deltion College and Hogeschool Utrecht, the Netherlands

The 2018 IACLE Travel Awards recipients are Professor Martha Lucila Márquez García, Santo Tomás University, Bucaramanga, Colombia; Ahmed Sherry, Modern University for Business and Science, Beirut, Lebanon; and Professor Sabrina Lara, Universidad Nacional Villa Maria, Córdoba, Argentina.

By | May 16th, 2018|Associations|

Candidates for AMA leadership

Candidates for the presidency of the Australian Medical Association are: Dr Tony Bartone (Vic), Professor Brad Frankum (NSW) and Dr Gino Pecoraro (Qld).

Vice-president candidates are: Dr Janice Fletcher (SA), Dr Jill Tomlinson (Vic), Dr Xavier Yu (Vic) and Dr Chris Zappala (Qld).

Both positions are for two years, and the election will take place at the AMA National Conference in Canberra on Sunday, 27 May.

By | May 16th, 2018|Associations|