Health-fund premiums rise by average of 3.95%

Premiums for cover by private health insurance companies rose by an average of 3.95 per cent on 1 April, with Bupa rising by the highest percentage – 3.99 per cent.

Medibank Private rose by 3.88 per cent, NIB 3.93, HCF 3.39, and HBF 3.75.

The proportion of Australians with hospital cover fell to 45.6 per cent in the December quarter amid concerns over high premiums, confusing policies and unexpected out-of-pocket expenses.

By | April 18th, 2018|Health insurance|

Major health fund to limit gap cover to contracted sites; cancels low-premium cover for ‘costly’ operations

Australia’s biggest private health insurance group, Bupa, has announced two new policies within a week that will drastically change the health insurance system.

The fund has told more than one third of its members who have lower-premium cover that they will no longer be able to claim benefits to cover the ‘gap’ for costly operations, meaning they will have to either take out more-expensive cover or run the risk of not needing one of what the fund has declared to be costly operations.

It has also advised members it will limit gap cover to its contracted sites (hospitals).

To date, there has been no response from other private health funds, but they may well follow Bupa’s lead before long.

By | March 4th, 2018|Health insurance|

Private health insurers want to reduce benefits for intravitreal injections

Private health insurers want to reduce benefits payable for intravitreal injections to treat aged macular degeneration in hospital clinics rather than in ophthalmologists’ rooms.

The funds are complaining about the $44 million annual cost of intravitreal injections delivered in a hospital setting – about 10 per cent of procedures.

Not surprisingly, health funds want to reduce benefits payable for the procedures but because they are delivered in-hospital, they are obliged to pay ophthalmologists nearly $800 more per treatment than what is paid by patients being treated in ophthalmologists’ rooms.

In most instances, it is likely patients may not be aware of the extra charge because they are not ‘admitted’ to a hospital, but treated in a clinic within one.

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophhalmologists’ policy is that intravitreal injections may be safely performed in ophthalmologists’ rooms as well as in hospital clinics.

To illustrate the basis for their concern, Medibank Private told The Australian newspaper that 12,500 patients had the procedure performed in hospital in the 2016 financial year, while Bupa said it had seen a 78-per-cent increase in the procedure performed in hospital between 2014 and 2017.

By | February 25th, 2018|Health insurance|

Health-insurance premiums set to rise 4%

Private health-insurance premiums are set to rise by an average of 4 per cent on 1 April, judging from comments made yesterday by the federal health minister, Mr Greg Hunt.

Such an increase would be the lowest in percentage terms since 2001, but would still be nearly twice the rate of general inflation and would add about $200 a year to the average policy.

Above-inflation premium increases

It means that the government’s much vaunted sweeping changes and cuts to the medical devices sector, which is usually blamed for above-inflation premium increases, have so far (since October) only delivered a 1-per-cent reduction in premiums compared with 2017, which had an average 5 per cent rise.

Mr Hunt last year said the government wanted this year’s increases yto be “as close as possible” to the inflation rate of 2 per cent.

Opposition health spokeswoman Catherine King said the premium rise was more disappointing news for people struggling with cost-of-living pressures and stagnant wages.

“The government will now have presided over a 25-per-cent increase in private health insurance premiums [since it won office in 2013].

By | January 21st, 2018|Health insurance|

Major reforms to make private health insurance simpler and more affordable

The federal government has announced a wide-ranging package of reforms to make private health insurance simpler and more affordable for Australians.

The reforms include:

  • Encouraging younger Australians to take up private health insurance by allowing insurers to discount hospital insurance premiums for 18 to 29 year olds by up to 10 per cent. The discount will phase out after people turn 40.
  • People with hospital insurance that does not offer full cover for mental health treatment will be able to upgrade their cover and access mental health services without a waiting period on a once-off basis.
  • To support Australians in regional and rural areas, insurers will be able to offer travel and accommodation benefits for people in regional and rural areas that need to travel for treatment.

The government has entered into an agreement with the Medical Technology Association of Australia to lower the price of implanted medical devices from 1 February next year, which will have immediate benefits for consumers in the form of lower premiums from April.

Maximum excess can be increased

The maximum excess consumers can choose under their health insurance policies will be increased for the first time since 2001, which will allow many consumers to reduce their premium increase in 2019.

Private health insurance will be simplified by requiring insurers

Read More >

By | October 16th, 2017|Business, Health insurance|