Health pre­mium shake-up

Funds to be over­hauled in bid for bet­ter value

The Gold Coast Bulletin - - NEWS - SUE DUN­LEVY

HEALTH fund pre­mi­ums for those aged un­der 30 will drop by up to 10 per cent and in­sur­ers will be banned from cov­er­ing un­proven nat­u­ral ther­a­pies – like yoga and pi­lates – un­der a ma­jor over­haul of pri­vate health in­sur­ance.

Health Min­is­ter Greg Hunt will to­day un­veil 14 changes to con­trol health fund pre­mi­ums that have been ris­ing at many times the in­fla­tion rate forc­ing tens of thou­sands of peo­ple a month to drop their cover.

Un­der the changes, peo­ple aged 18-25 will get a pre­mium dis­count worth 2 per cent per year for each year they be­long to a health fund. The dis­counts phase out when they turn 40.

To save funds, re­bates for a large range of un­proven nat­u­ral ther­a­pies will be banned in­clud­ing: Alexan­der tech­nique, aro­mather­apy, Bowen ther­apy, Buteyko, Feldenkrais, herbal­ism, ho­moeopa­thy, iri­dol­ogy, ki­ne­si­ol­ogy, natur­opa­thy, pi­lates, re­flex­ol­ogy, Rolf­ing, shi­atsu, tai chi and yoga.

Pre­mium rises for those aged over 30 will be 1 per cent a year lower as the gov­ern­ment slashes by $1 bil­lion the amount health funds pay for pros­the­ses like hip and knee re­place­ments four years.

“We know that ev­ery dol­lar mat­ters to Aus­tralian fam­i­lies and these re­forms will get bet­ter value for fam­i­lies and make poli­cies eas­ier to un­der­stand,” Mr Hunt said.

A new ru­ral health prod­uct will see health funds of­fer travel and ac­com­mo­da­tion ben­e­fits un­der hos­pi­tal cover to over the next make pri­vate health in­sur­ance more at­trac­tive.

Eight in 10 health fund mem­bers opt to pay an ex­cess to lower their pre­mi­ums and Mr Hunt will lift the cap on these ex­cesses from $500 to $750 for sin­gles and from $1000 to $1500 for fam­i­lies.

The gov­ern­ment will try to end the con­fu­sion sur­round­ing the choice of the best health fund pol­icy by re­vamp­ing its pri­vate health in­sur­ance om­buds­man web­site and giv­ing the om­buds­man six more staff.

The om­buds­man’s web­site will be up­graded to ask peo­ple what they want to be cov­ered for and what their in­come is, and sug­gest all the pol­icy op­tions from all health funds.

Health fund poli­cies will be clas­si­fied as gold, sil­ver and bronze and have to meet cer­tain stan­dard cov­er­age con­di­tions.

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