Re­forms spur in­sur­ers to tar­get young cus­tomers

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS -

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

Med­ibank Pri­vate and NIB wel­comed changes an­nounced by Fed­eral Health Min­is­ter Greg Hunt yes­ter­day that in­clude al­low­ing in­sur­ers to dis­count hospi­tal in­sur­ance pre­mi­ums for 18 to 29- yearolds 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 and af­ford­able.

Med­ibank CEO Craig Drum­mond says the af­ford­abil­ity of health in­sur­ance was a key con­cern for cus­tomers.

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

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 Fed­eral Govern­ment to pass on re­duced med­i­cal de­vice prices to pol­i­cy­hold­ers.

Mr Fitzgib­bon 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 – a sit­u­a­tion that Mr Fitzgib­bon de­scribed as “bor­der­ing on scan­dal”.

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

Un­der the re­forms an­nounced, the dis­count on pol­icy pre­mi­ums for young peo­ple will phase out af­ter they turn 40.

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