Medibank chief executive officer
ON Friday, I spoke with a Medibank customer of more than 40 years. Margaret had her knee surgery cancelled three times because of government restrictions on elective surgery in April. Her surgery has since gone ahead but she is one of countless Australians who have felt the impact of a health system that has had to adapt quickly to COVID-19.
It has been a tough year for everyone, and it doesn’t look like it will get easier any time soon. It’s not just patients who have felt this. Australia’s healthcare workers, one of whom is my own son, go to work every day as part of the frontline response to this pandemic.
As the chief executive of Medibank, I see the impact this is having on our 3.7 million customers and the health teams across our business. I also see the impact on healthcare providers. Hospitals, dentists, physios and their frontline people – to name just a few – have all felt the pain of COVID-19.
Private health insurers are a critical part of Australia’s world-renowned mixed public and private health system. It’s in Australia’s best interest that private health care continues to have a pivotal role in the response to COVID-19. We determined right from the beginning that our customers would not be financially disadvantaged by changes that have had to happen.
That’s why the industry immediately postponed premium increases for six months and has returned more than half a billion dollars in savings to customers.
Any suggestion of a billion-dollar industry windfall from the six-week shutdown ignores not only this but also what happened to claims during and since this time.
It is true we saw a decrease in claims over the six weeks, particularly in extras. Hospital claims also fell, although many elective surgeries were unaffected by the government’s restrictions. In total, claims were around 50 per cent of normal levels.
But since then, claims have bounced back to normal or above-normal levels. The industry regulator, APRA, recognises this “catchup” and has told insurers to expect the majority – if not all – of surgeries and extras services disrupted through COVID-19 to ultimately take place. These same claims will be subject to the health inflation we see year after year. The latest CPI data shows this tracking at 2.9 per cent, which makes the gap between “premiums in” and “claims out” as lean as it ever was.
What we’re seeing now in Victoria is the situation is fluid. If it turns out there are more savings, we will return these to customers.
Our promise to not benefit financially from the pandemic is on the public record and we aren’t about to walk away from this.
On top of postponing premiums, we have chosen to support our customers and community in additional ways. This ranges from a hardship program to help customers doing it tough – including a 50 per cent premium discount for those doing it hardest – and a $5 million donation to Beyond Blue. In all, our response exceeds $180 million so far.
Australians are living with enormous uncertainty and health is more important than ever. Medibank stands with our customers and community and we will continue to support the public health response like we have from the start.
My family has private health insurance for the same reason as more than 13.6 million Australians – it gives us peace of mind and choice. We know affordability is a huge concern in this uncertain time – and that’s why we will stick by our promise to return any savings straight back to the people who matter most: our customers.
THEY are the Alpha royals – the newest generation of Windsors, set to reboot the monarchy. It’s not just Prince George who has a destiny – every child, from his siblings Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis, to his cousins, are tipped to shake up the royal family as we know it. So what’s in store for the mini monarch and his cohorts?
The Alpha Generation is the term for children born after 2010 – those who will grow up in a very different world to their parents. The term, coined by Australian social researcher Mark McCrindle, applies to those who come after Gen Z– and as the name implies, are expected to start things afresh.
He predicts they will be the most technologically-savvy generation yet – and the most caring.
This also applies to the Alpha royals, who alongside George, Charlotte and Louis, consist of cousin Archie MountbattenWindsor and second-cousins Mia and Lena Tindall and Savannah and Isla Phillips.
As direct heir to the throne, George, who turns seven this week, has his future mapped out but royal insiders believe he will preside over a different monarchy when he eventually takes the throne.
“I think he will be very inclusive, as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge seem to be raising him and his siblings that way,” says Brittani Barger, deputy editor of Royal Central. She predicts the monarchy will be a lot less formal and much more open than it is today.
“I suspect he will be a good allround king who will be aware of many more things that are going on than perhaps other royalty,” says behaviourist Carole Railton.
She sees a creative streak in George and says he is inquisitive and keen to learn.
Charlotte, 5, will play a prominent role in George’s monarchy. She will inherit the title Princess Royal and, as such, it’s expected she will be a full-time working royal whose role is to support the future king. Insiders hope this will be less of a problem than it has played out with previous spare heirs Princess Margaret, Prince Andrew and Prince Harry.
“Charlotte is already a little leader so she will be a force to be reckoned with. I can see her being like Princess Anne in her duties. And Louis may be the fun-loving younger brother that is able to relax George when things get stressful,” says Barger.
“I think they will be relaxed and fun royals, as well as good support for their brother.”
George is sensitive, charismatic and able to “feel” people, says Neuro Success Coach Marilyn Devonish,
who analysed the “soul plans” of the Alpha royals for the Sunday Mail and says he will need good emotional support, probably from Charlotte.
A soul plan reading is an ancient method of forecasting someone’s life-purpose based on the sound vibrations from their full birth name.
“She has the potential skill of being both creative and logical, with the innate ability to assimilate abstract concepts and bring them to practical fruition,” Devonish says.
But she warns Charlotte’s biggest challenge will be to fulfil her destiny without feeling trapped – like her Uncle Harry.
“Her soul destiny is in part to master herself, figure out how to best harness the creative energy, and be of meaningful service to others, avoiding the pressures to be perfect or feeling trapped,” Devonish says.
But it’s Louis, 2, who could bring about big change, she says.
“He has the potential to make an impact on a large scale and touch the world with his sense of unconditional love,” Devonish says, explaining his chart shows he will be “optimistic, intuitive, an excellent networker, facilitator, visionary and have the ability to connect with and inspire people.
“He may be the healer, counsellor and peacemaker of the family because of his loving and compassionate nature, and is potentially someone who leads by example and shows others the way.
“He may have a touch of Diana, Princess of Wales, and inspire others into spiritual action and radiate unconditional love.”
Prince Charles is open about his vision for a slimmed-down royalty, centred around his immediate heirs, but while George, Charlotte and Louis will be working royals, by the time George takes the throne, even that may have changed.
As for their cousin Archie, he faces a very different future.
After his parents made their exit from the royal family, 14month-old Archie is growing up far away in Los Angeles, presumably unaware his great-granny is the Queen and lives in a palace.
There will be no playdates at the polo or birthday parties with his cousins, so the royal side of his life will have minimal impact and, instead, he will have a childhood not unlike his mother Meghan’s, albeit a lot more privileged.
According to Devonish, his charts show “ups and downs of financial fortune”.
“Ordinarily, this wouldn’t make sense for a royal, but it may have an impact given the decision of his parents to leave the royal family and create their own financial independence,” she says.
She sees a drive to be of service to the world, but he will need to “claim and balance his power, then learn how to use that knowledge to empower others”.
The future is muddied because although Archie doesn’t have a title, when Charles becomes king,