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Health Minister calls for transparency when comparing health insurance

30 March 2016 - 10:41am

It's not always easy to compare health insurance. Every person, couple and family is different, with their own budgets and health needs, just like each of Australia's health funds is distinct from the other.

"I'm deeply concerned at the current difficulty faced by consumers in comparing private health insurance policies."

It really starts to show when we look at how insurance costs are rising. As of April 1, all health insurers will increase their premiums by an average 5.59 per cent. However, the highest is by 8.95 per cent (CUA Health), while the lowest is only 3.76 per cent (Doctor's Health Fund).

Even identical policies - so called "equivalent" levels of cover - are rarely the same. It's putting a strain on the everyday policyholder who wants to act quickly, compare health funds, find their most suitable option and go for it before the premium increase comes into play.

Health Minister Sussan Ley is one of the people who sees it as problematic for the average consumer.

Deeply concerned

"I'm deeply concerned at the current difficulty faced by consumers in comparing private health insurance policies and shopping around for a better deal is stifling innovation in the private health sector," Ms Ley explained in a March 6 statement.

"This is not surprising, with over 40,000 individual policies registered in Australia, some of which are clearly junk and not delivering the best value for consumers or taxpayers."

In response to the confusion, the health minister says the system needs more transparency and simplicity if the private health insurance industry is to grow into the requirements of Australian policyholders.

Junk policies are a big risk

One problem Ms Ley points out is how unfair it is for a policyholder to have to pay out-of-pocket expenses for treatment they initially thought was covered. The rise in premium costs has also led to many private health insurance customers taking out only a bare-bones policy that fails to cover them for some rather obvious treatments - such as cancer.

All this is not helped by a health insurance landscape that is difficult for people to navigate, and 40,000 people recently responded to a government survey to have their voices heard.

Overall, authorities pointed out three ways to improve:

  • Health funds need to make comparing easier with less confusing fine print,
  • Customers need to be savvy and avoid junk policies,
  • The $6 billion taxpayer support for private health needs to be spent on quality outcomes.

Making a change

While comparing health insurance in Australia is difficult at the moment, there is help available. Individual cover to family health insurance and corporate health plans, HICA's experts can do the leg work for you.

Call us on 1300 44 22 01 to find a quality, cost-effective policy.