The Turnbull Government’s reforms to take the pressure off private health insurance has today delivered the lowest annual premium change in almost two decades.
Health funds will have average weighted premium increases of 3.95 per cent from 1 April 2018.
This is the lowest since 2001 and lower than any year under the Rudd and Gillard governments.
From 1 April, a single person will pay an average of around $1.40 extra a week, while families will pay an average of around $2.75 extra a week for their private health insurance.
We know that every dollar matters to Australian families and although this is the lowest increase in 17 years, there is more work to be done.
More than 13 million Australians have private health insurance and it is vital that cover is affordable and provides value for money.
Already the significant private health insurance reforms that we announced in October last year have made an impact and they will continue to drive down costs.
Every single dollar of savings from the $1.1 billion reform of the Prostheses List is being passed onto consumers and this has already resulted in this lower premium change this year.
To be clear – this reform alone will deliver savings of $1.1 billion to Australians with private health insurance.
We are also investing around $6.4 billion every year in the private health insurance rebate to help keep premiums affordable.
This is in stark contrast to Labor’s plan to reduce policy choices and increase premiums by around 16 per cent – making it unaffordable for many Australian families.
Labor hates private health insurance. In Government they cut $4 billion from the private health insurance rebate and means tested it. And now they’ve confirmed they want to do it again.
This would be a disaster for the health system and for every patient in Australia.
As part of the reforms announced at the end of last year, we are acting to simplify private health insurance by requiring insurers to categorise products as gold/silver/bronze/basic.
These changes will also require insurers to use standardised definitions for treatments to make it clear what is and isn’t covered in their policies.
We’re encouraging younger Australians to take up private health insurance by allowing insurers to discount premiums for 18 to 29 year olds by up to 10 per cent.
People with hospital insurance that does not offer full cover for mental health treatment will be able to upgrade their cover and access mental health services without a waiting period on a once-off basis. This will significantly enhance the value of private health insurance for many people.
To support Australians in regional and rural areas, insurers will be able to offer travel and accommodation benefits for people in regional and rural areas that need to travel for treatment.
Private health insurance is an essential and valuable part of the health system and the Turnbull Government is committed to getting better value for all Australians.
There are 37 private health insurance funds operating in Australia and I encourage consumers to shop around to get the best deal for themselves and their families.
Independent advice on health insurance — free of commissions — is available online at www.privatehealth.gov.au