AMA backs health fund shake-up
A shake-up of the private health insurance industry has won the backing of the Australian Medical Association as a “step in the right direction”, but critics say it does not go far enough to address affordability concerns.
Unveiling the details of the Federal Government’s overhaul yesterday, Health Minister Greg Hunt said the changes would result in simpler policies and more affordable premiums.
But shadow health spokeswoman Catherine King said that while the Opposition welcomed some aspects of the reforms, young people would only save about 70¢ a week and premiums for older Australians and families would still rise next year.
“There is absolutely no guarantee in this package there will be a lower private health insurance rise in April next year,” Ms King said.
The AMA said it remained concern about “junk” policies that only covered entry into public hospitals.
“We need to ensure that consumers are very clear about what they’re getting,“vice-president Tony Bartone said.
Defence Health chief executive Gerard Fogarty said the changes were “far from complete or sufficient to immediately reduce the pressure consumers are experiencing”.
Insurers will be able to discount hospital insurance premiums by up to 10 per cent for those under 30 and policyholders will be able to select a higher excess in exchange for lower premiums.
Insurance policies will be categorised as gold, silver, bronze or basic, and benefits will be cut to a range of natural therapies such as yoga and aromatherapy.
Mental health coverage will be expanded.
The Government has signed a deal with prostheses makers which will cut the price insurers pay for their products by $1 billion over four years.