In­sur­ers paint pic­ture of health on re­form pack­age

Geelong Advertiser - - BUSINESS BEAT -

HEALTH in­sur­ers Med­ibank Pri­vate and NIB have backed Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment health in­sur­ance re­forms and say they will pass on the sav­ings to cus­tomers.

Fed­eral Health Min­is­ter Greg Hunt yes­ter­day an­nounced changes that in­clude al­low­ing in­sur­ers to dis­count hospi­tal in­sur­ance premi­ums for 18 to 29-year-olds by up to 10 per cent. The mea­sures also in­clude in­cen­tives for young peo­ple to take up in­sur­ance, lower pros­the­ses prices and mea­sures to make men­tal health ser­vices more ac­ces­si­ble.

Med­ibank chief ex­ec­u­tive Craig Drum­mond said the af­ford­abil­ity of health in­sur­ance was a key cus­tomer con­cern.

“This re­form pack­age is es­sen­tial to keep­ing premi­ums af­ford­able for our cus­tomers, with Med­ibank com­mit­ting to re­turn ev­ery dol­lar of these sav­ings to cus­tomers,” he said in a state­ment yes­ter­day.

“In an en­vi­ron­ment where the cost of health­care con­tin­ues to rise, re­forms like this are para­mount to ad­dress­ing the is­sue of af­ford­abil­ity.”

NIB chief ex­ec­u­tive Mark Fitzgib­bon said lower prices for med­i­cal de­vices — such as ar­ti­fi­cial hips and knees or pace­mak­ers — and the dis­counts in premi­ums for young peo­ple were par­tic­u­larly wel­come.

Mr Fitzgib­bon said NIB and other in­sur­ers had made “iron­clad” un­der­tak­ings to the Gov­ern­ment to pass on re­duced prices to pol­i­cy­hold­ers.

He said pa­tients in pri­vate hos­pi­tals had been pay­ing up to five times the cost of med­i­cal de­vices com­pared to what pub­lic hospi­tal pa­tients paid for the same de­vice.

He said that eas­ily the most ef­fec­tive way to keep pre­mium in­creases low was to at­tract more young peo­ple into pri­vate health in­sur­ance.

“That’s sim­ply be­cause it low­ers the av­er­age claim cost,” he said.

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