Health premiums to rise but at 15-year low

(Australian Associated Press)

 

Australians will have to reach further into their pockets for private health cover from April but Health Minister Greg Hunt insists it should be the lowest rise in premiums in more than 15 years.

Mr Hunt will soon reveal the April 1 increase, following last year’s average premium rise of 4.84 per cent but on Wednesday was already pre-empting the announcement.

“After one of the most significant reforms to private health insurance, we are pushing insurers to deliver the lowest change to premiums in over 15 years because every dollar matters to families, seniors and young Australians,” he said.

The Australian Medical Association warns any increase on products which aren’t offering value to customers is concerning.

“We need better value in those products before we can talk about any increase,” vice president Tony Bartone told ABC TV.

Dr Bartone warned many Australians were opting out of insurance because of bad experiences where they found out they’re not covered for what they thought.

“Junk policies do no consumer and no patient any worthwhile benefit and we need to ensure that there is that clarity,” he said.

Each year insurers submit their proposed premium increases to the minister ahead of an April change.

Last year Mr Hunt ticked off on a rise of 4.84 per cent, which the government claimed would have been higher if not for changes to the price health funds pay for hip and knee replacements and other prostheses.

Labor MP Terri Butler warned a slated increase this year of double the rate of inflation would hurt families.

“Malcolm Turnbull has failed to make health insurance more affordable for families,” she told reporters in Brisbane.

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