Private health premiums to rise in October
Following reports of private health mega profits, consumer group CHOICE says private health funds must dump their upcoming October price rises.
“Reports today that private health funds have made mega profits out of COVID-19 show they must provide some relief to Australians” says Dean Price, CHOICE Health Campaigner.
Not-for-profit fund HBF is the only insurer who has done the right thing, by giving their customers 12 months relief from premium increases during the COVID-19 crisis. The industry has also begun backtracking on promises to return profit made from customers being unable to claim in lockdown periods.
“This is disgraceful. Funds are charging full price while not delivering the full range of healthcare services. They can’t get away with doing the bare minimum while raking in these profits. The October price rises must be scrapped for the good of the community”
“All health funds need to join HBF in deferring the 2020 premium increase for the full year. To increase people's premiums on 1 October, as most funds plan to do, would be cruel in light of these abnormal profits” says Price.
“This industry has played an aggressive game of PR bluster - promising to return abnormal profits at the start of the COVID-19 crisis and then backtracking, deflecting and going on the attack to avoid their promise. The community doesn’t need games right now - put money back in people’s pockets so they can get through this crisis”.
Timeline of public comments on ‘abnormal’ profits
- APRIL 6, 2020 - “Major health funds will in the next few weeks reveal how they will hand back to their members billions of dollars they will save as a result of COVID-19 surgery and dental bans.” https://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/coronavirus/coronavirus-cash-back-for-health-fund-members-from-covid19/news-story/89757f478822c48121309c4380f2396d
- APRIL 24, 2020 - A few weeks later they restated their promise to return profits, but didn’t deliver the details on how they would do it: https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2020/apr/24/australias-private-health-funds-say-they-will-return-any-abnormal-coronavirus-profits-to-members
- JUNE 23, 2020 - “The funds always rejected the idea they would make big savings from the virus due to the sudden drop in elective surgery.” https://www.afr.com/companies/healthcare-and-fitness/don-t-bet-on-the-death-of-private-health-insurance-20200623-p555c9
- JUNE 24, 2020 - “many funds say the impact has been far less severe than first thought, and a resurgence in claims means the boost to profit may not materialise.” https://www.afr.com/companies/financial-services/health-funds-backtrack-on-refund-promise-20200624-p555mw
- JUNE 25, 2020 - CHOICE said “The industry is now backflipping on its promise to return any profits made off the pandemic and won’t be returning their unexpected windfalls back to their customers.” https://mailchi.mp/7174c729c2c2/choice-response-to-private-health-insurers-backflip-on-returning-members-money
- JUNE 25, 2020 - The industry lobby group quickly responded “The commitment made by Australian health funds not to profit from the COVID-19 restriction remains. There has been no change.” https://www.privatehealthcareaustralia.org.au/health-funds-keep-their-promise-to-members-impacted-by-covid-19/
- JULY 2, 2020 - “The financial regulator has put health insurers on notice not to bank savings from a coronavirus-fuelled fall in hospital and extras claims.” https://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/financial-services/health-insurers-warned-dont-bank-savings/news-story/beee325ffd882e37b926fc74e815d970
12 July 2020.