Fears of fund hikes

Weekend Gold Coast Bulletin - - NEWS - SUE DUN­LEVY

HEALTH funds are re­fus­ing to guar­an­tee that pre­mium rises will not soar higher than in­fla­tion de­spite win­ning over $1 bil­lion in sav­ings un­der health re­forms.

And health fund groups claim the re­forms will shave just $34 from an ex­pected $200 a year pre­mium hike next year.

The gov­ern­ment is also fac­ing a ma­jor back­lash over its de­ci­sion to end health fund sub­si­dies for nat­u­ral ther­a­pies with a so­cial me­dia protest over the move read by more than 70,000 peo­ple.

The Your Health Your Choice cam­paign led by nat­u­ral ther­apy prac­ti­tion­ers says it’s ridicu­lous that at the same time it is dis­count­ing premi­ums to at­tract young peo­ple into in­sur­ance the gov­ern­ment is ax­ing sub­si­dies for the very treat­ments they want to use.

In other de­vel­op­ments in­sur­ers have re­vealed that un­less health funds get an ex­tra 50,000 young mem­bers as a re­sult of a new 10 per cent price dis­count older health fund mem­bers will have to pay higher premi­ums to cover the cost of the in­cen­tives.

And while health funds have won the right to keep of­fer­ing pub­lic hospi­tal only in­sur­ance poli­cies they are ac­tively cam­paign­ing to stop pay­ing for treat­ment in pub­lic hos­pi­tals.

More than 560,000 Aus­tralians have these so called “junk poli­cies” that only cover them in a pub­lic hospi­tal even though they can get free pub­lic hospi­tal treat­ment un­der Medi­care.

The gov­ern­ment re­neged on its elec­tion prom­ise to axe the poli­cies but health funds now want their mem­bers barred from us­ing the poli­cies in pub­lic hos­pi­tals un­less the fund is given 24 hours no­tice.

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