PRIVATE health insurance premiums are set to rise by an average of 5.59 per cent from next month, costing families an extra $200 each year for hospital benefits.
The increase is the ninth in a row of five per cent-plus increases.
Twenty Australian funds lowered their hike demands after federal health minister Sussan Ley requested insurers resubmit applications for premium increases. The result was the smallest price increase in four years and below the long-term average of 6.1 per cent.
Ms Ley chalks is up as a win for consumers and in a statement said an average family with hospital and general health cover would save $166 a year from the review. But premium increases vary, depending on the insurer so Ms Ley refused to calculate how much extra the average family would pay due to the premium increase.
Ballarat MP and Labor health spokeswoman Catherine King said the impending increase was still three times the current rate of inflation and would cost families about $200 extra per year.
“What we have seen under the Turnbull Government after the past two years, they waved through the highest increases in health insurance premiums in a decade,” Ms King said. “They have come to the party very late – they are trying to get congratulated for this latest rise – I think consumers will see it for exactly what it is, another hit on their hip pocket.”
Under legislation, private health insurers must apply to the health minister for approval of their premium changes. The increases usually apply from April 1. This was the first time in three years insurers have been asked to resubmit.
Ms King said these were hard negotiations.
“Certainly my view is that the government needs to do what it did this time: sit down with private health insurers, make them absolutely justify those increases, look at where there can be some pressure taken off in private health insurance,” Ms King said. “It’s what the government has done this time, that’s a good thing, but it hasn’t done that for the past two years.”
In a statement, the health department said it had been "overwhelmed" by the 40,000 Australians who responded to a government survey on private health insurance. The majority of consumers raised concerns about the affordability of their premiums and questioned their insurance policy's value for money.
Ms Ley said redressing these concerns had partly motivated her January intervention. The outcome demonstrated "good faith" on the part of insurers, she said.
Average insurance premium increase
ACA Health Benefits Fund Ltd 6.19%
Australian Unity Health Ltd 5.05%
BUPA Australia Pty Ltd 5.69%
CBHS Health Fund Ltd 5.92%
Cessnock District Health Benefits Fund Ltd 6.19%
CUA Health Fund Ltd 8.95%
Defence Health Ltd 5.48%
Doctor's Health Fund Pty Ltd, The 3.76%
GMHBA Ltd 5.44%
Grand United Corporate Health Ltd 4.26%
HBF Health Ltd 4.94%
Health Care Insurance Ltd 6.90%
Health Insurance Fund of Australia Ltd 6.55%
Health Partners Ltd 7.14%
Health.com.au Pty Ltd 8.81%
Hospitals Contribution Fund of Australia Ltd, The 5.42%
Latrobe Health Services Ltd 5.52%
Lysaght Peoplecare Ltd 4.38%
Medibank Private Ltd 5.64%
Mildura District Hospital Fund Ltd 6.74%
National Health Benefits Australia Pty Ltd 5.28%
Navy Health Ltd 5.50%
NIB Health Funds Ltd 5.55%
Phoenix Health Fund Ltd 5.72%
Police Health Ltd 4.81%
Queensland Country Health Fund Ltd 4.91%
Queensland Teachers' Union Health Fund Ltd 7.15%
Railway & Transport Health Fund Ltd 5.61%
Reserve Bank Health Society Ltd 5.37%
St Luke's Medical & Hospital Benefits Association Ltd 5.89%
Teachers Federation Health Ltd 4.97%
Transport Health Pty Ltd 6.49%
Westfund Ltd 5.94%
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