Private health insurance set for shake-up

Postado Outubro 13, 2017

Australians with private health insurance are being promised cheaper premiums and easier access to mental healthcare under a raft of new measures.

"So people will be able to access mental health services earlier through private health insurance", Turnbull said.

For example, a 19-year-old who takes out health insurance would be offered a 2 per cent discount on his or her premium, building to a 10 per cent discount by the time they are 24.

He estimated the changes to prostheses prices would save HBF about $15 million a year.

That discounted rate would remain until they are 40, after which it would be phased out.

It's about getting young people in, which helps them... and secondly that actually reduces pressure on the whole of private health insurance because they lower the average costs.

Some low-priced policies attract co-payments of up to $1,000 a day for mental health stays.

The changes will also place a greater focus on mental health, which is the third leading cause of hospitalisation for men after dental and sporting injuries.

About 90 per cent of day admissions for mental health are now paid for through private health insurance, and 50 per cent of all mental health admissions.

Another big change will be in the way health insurance products are categorised.

The ABC understands the Government has resisted pressure to dump low-priced policies, regarded as "junk" policies by some consumer groups, because of the flow-on cost it would have on other insurance premiums. They will now be categorised into four levels of cover, Gold, Silver, Bronze and Basic, which is created to make it easier to work out which product is right for you.

"We are pleased that the minister for health has listened to the concerns of the private health insurance industry and acted to place the interests of consumers before the profits of large global medical device manufacturers", he said.

These include cardiac devices such as pacemakers and implanted defibrillators as well as orthopaedic implants such as hips and knees. The private health care industry says industry kickbacks to doctors and some private hospitals are encouraging inflated prices.

"The fact that the Minister for Health has recognised that in order to put downward pressure on premiums, action must be taken to reduce service provider costs in key areas, such as medical specialists, hospital operators and prostheses is welcome", he said.

The government signs off on premium increases as the regulator. Premiums have now jumped by an 5.6% annual average since 2010.

Private insurers can still cover these items but they will no longer be eligible for Commonwealth subsidies.