More information needed from Private Health Insurers

The Minister for Health Sussan Ley has asked all Private Health Insurers to provide additional information regarding possible premium increases which they have requested for 2016.


The Minister has been concerns the current process used to assess and approve premium increases does not allow Government a rigorous assessment of an insurer’s full financial position.


Unlike other insurance industries, the Federal Government holds a significant stake in the private health sector, providing around $6 billion in taxpayer funded rebates to consumers every year.


Health funds have been asked to resubmit an application for a lower premium increase or provide any evidence of extenuating circumstances.


Ms Ley said, "It is important I am armed with the full picture before approving any premium increase, particularly as consumers are telling me they are finding it increasingly difficult to simply ‘shop around’ for a better deal."


Feedback from the Government’s consultations on private health insurance showed consumers have strong concerns about the affordability of their premiums; particularly since premiums have increased at a rate of around 6 per cent per year for the past five years.


The belated call by the minister (since premium increase submissions have already been made by insurers) is reminiscent of the ministerial blustering of previous Ministers of Health who also called for the containment of premium costs but bowed to the insurance companies' hefty increase requests over the last five years.


Hopefully Minister Ley will listen to the pained public outcry and have the courage to anaesthetise increases in this current round of premium reviews, to which she will ultimately give approval.


30 January 2016.