Hunt signs insurance hike
The cost of private health insurance for Australian families is on the rise.
Health Minister Greg Hunt has given Federal Government approval to the insurance industry’s plan for an average premium rise of 4.84 per cent.
That means the top tier of family hospital cover will increase to around $4500 a year, while singles cover will cost an extra $100 to $1250.
The rise should be about $2 a week for a single person and $4 for families.
Mr Hunt said there had been some pricing changes on procedures including hip and knee replacements and some prostheses, which would otherwise have driven up the price.
Even though the price rises are at three times the rate of inflation, Mr Hunt insists it is the lowest increase in a decade.
“As the new Health Minister, I will work with insurers over the next year to find ways insurers can deliver more value for customers without compromising on the quality of cover,” he said in a statement.
“I have already made this clear to the insurance companies and received a commitment that they will work to that end.”
Industry insiders were expecting a 5 per cent hike in 2017, adding to cumulative increases of 28 per cent since 2012.
In 2016, there was an average price rise of 5.59 per cent, lower than the long-term average of 6.1 per cent a year.
Opposition health spokeswoman Catherine King said families are getting less for more.
“Australians are paying more than ever for their private health insurance but they are getting less and less, and the Liberals have done absolutely nothing to help families with the costs of health,” Ms King said.
“This $200 increase comes on top of some of the highest premium increases on record, spiralling complaints against private health insurers and Australians increasingly discovering they are simply not covered for basic inclusions in their policies.”
The Private Health Insurance Ombudsman reportedly received over 4400 complaints last year; a 30 per cent increase.
“The new Health Minister is joking if he thinks this is good news – he can't seriously expect a pat on the back for a 23 per cent increase to private health insurance premiums,” she said.
The leaders of the industry are certainly not suffering, with executive pay packets at the biggest private health insurers soaring.
The total pay for former Medibank Private chief executive George Savvides climbed from $1.4 million in 2014 to $2.4 million in 2016, while NIB chief executive Mark Fitzgibbon’s total pay increased by 95 per cent in the same period to $1.76 million.
Market leader BUPA does not publicly disclose its chief executive's pay, while HCF only states a total of about $7 million is given to its eight senior executives.