Money Private health insurance premiums to be cheaper under industry shake-up, funds and doctors say

08:18  13 october  2017
08:18  13 october  2017 Source:   ABC News

Family ‘lost $9k’ on operation despite 30-year private health fund payments

  Family ‘lost $9k’ on operation despite 30-year private health fund payments Ahead of the government's planned shake-up of private health insurance, Australians have been warned of the potential pitfalls involved in joining a fund. "Over the past 12 months the private health funds increased their profits by 17 percent" Nine Network finance editor Ross Greenwood said."They've also increased their premiums by twice the rate of inflation - the question is, who is winning out of all this, the consumer or the health funds?"One couple, Penny and Mike, told A Current Affair they thought they had done everything right during their 30 years in their health fund.

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Soaring private health insurance prices are set to be slowed by a major industry overhaul.

$100m class action leveled at Westpac for 'abuse of powers'

  $100m class action leveled at Westpac for 'abuse of powers' A class action has been filed against Westpac Banking Corporation over claims it overcharged customers for life insurance. Shine Lawyers filed the action in Federal Court yesterday, alleging the bank took advantage of its customers through referrals to Westpac financial planners who would then sign them up for more expensive life insurance products.The bank and its subsidiaries St George, Bank of Melbourne and Bank of SA are accused of charging customers 4.5 percent more for Westpac life insurance packages than they would have been charged if the insurance was obtained elsewhere.

The rise in health insurance premiums will certainly force some consumers to reduce their cover or, even, give it up all together, which causes a funding shortfall for health insurers and often leads to an increase the following April. As cover by private health insurance falls

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More than a dozen changes will be formally announced today, including a discount on premiums of up to 10 per cent for younger Australians.

Customers will also be able to opt for a higher excess to reduce their costs.

"We know that every dollar matters to Australian families," Health Minister Greg Hunt said.

"These reforms will get better value for families and make policies easier to understand."

Premiums have increased by an average 5.6 per cent every year since 2010 and the Government is hopeful next year's rise could fall below 4 per cent.

But one of Australia's largest funds, Bupa, said it believed that would be "quite challenging".

"It may be just a bit of a stretch … given the way claims are behaving," Bupa managing director of health insurance Dr Dwayne Crombie said.

Is the party over for the Medibank Private Ltd share price?

  Is the party over for the Medibank Private Ltd share price? Medibank Private shares have touched a new all-time high.The rally in the private health insurer’s share price marks a stunning turnaround after the stock slumped all the way back to its float price of $2 in August 2015.

frasesbonitasblog.com. Coming soon. Questions: With companies rushing fire, their there's up . insurance each

"It will be the lowest in 10 years, there'll be no doubt about that."

  Private health insurance premiums to be cheaper under industry shake-up, funds and doctors say © Flickr: Threthny Insurers will pay less for medical devices, such as pacemakers, after hard-fought negotiations between the Government and manufacturers.

This measure alone is tipped to save funds more than $1 billion over four years.

HCF managing director Sheena Jack said those price reductions should go further.

"We think the total savings for prosthesis are probably more in the order of $800 million [annually]," she said.

"So it's a great start, but we would like to see that work continue."

Lower premiums by increasing excess

For the first time since 2001, customers will be given the option to increase their excess limit.

The maximum excess for singles is currently $500, but that will be lifted to $750, while families will be able to increase their limit from $1,000 to $1,500.

Ms Jack said it is about giving people more options.

The Australian government is hoping millennials will help save private health insurance

  The Australian government is hoping millennials will help save private health insurance The Turnbull government is hoping to enlist millennials to tackle skyrocketing private health insurance premiums, offering people under 30 a range of incentives if they sign up. Health minister Greg Hunt has labelled the change the biggest reforms to health care in 15 years and "hopes" premium increases, which have risen by around double the rate of inflation for a decade will stabilise as a result. Premiums have now jumped by an 5.6% annual average since 2010.

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"If you choose to take a larger excess on the policy, then you pay a lower premium," she said.

Premiums have increased by an average 5.6 per cent every year since 2010. © Provided by ABC News Premiums have increased by an average 5.6 per cent every year since 2010. The Government said the move would help reduce premium hikes, but Dr Crombie said Bupa's modelling suggested higher prices over the medium term.

"Because there's a higher excess, there's less premium in the pot," he said.

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners president Dr Bastian Seidel said he was worried people will get caught out if they choose a higher excess.

"If you can afford it that's great, but if you can't afford it you want to be really careful before signing up," Dr Seidel said.

Additional assistance for mental health patients

Patients that need to upgrade their hospital cover to access mental health services will now be able to do so without a waiting period.

The Brain and Mind Centre's Professor Ian Hickie has praised Mr Hunt.

"The Minister has taken a very important step of action. To make sure that mental health is central to the discussion and not peripheral or excluded," he said.

The Australian government is hoping millennials will help save private health insurance

  The Australian government is hoping millennials will help save private health insurance The Turnbull government is hoping to enlist millennials to tackle skyrocketing private health insurance premiums, offering people under 30 a range of incentives if they sign up. Health minister Greg Hunt has labelled the change the biggest reforms to health care in 15 years and "hopes" premium increases, which have risen by around double the rate of inflation for a decade will stabilise as a result. Premiums have now jumped by an 5.6% annual average since 2010.

Health premiums are about to get cheaper across Australia. Picture: ThinkstockSource:ThinkStock. An analysis conducted for the private health insurance industry found a pacemaker that cost ,520 in Australia was being sold for just 40 in Japan.

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But Professor Hickie said the work was far from over.

"There's a much bigger challenge ahead. And that's how to use private health insurance to cover specialised care outside of hospital," he said.

'Useless' policies set to stay

However, consumer advocacy group Choice slammed the Government's decision not to ban "useless" policies that do not cover many private hospital procedures.

The so-called junk policies are often purchased simply to avoid paying extra income tax via the Medicare Levy surcharge.

Before the last election, the Coalition pledged to "weed out" the products, but has backed away from the promise.

"This is asking people to pay for something that offers them very little value," Choice spokeswoman Erin Turner said.

Shadow health minister Catherine King agreed.

"Our view very firmly is the 30 per cent rebate should not be paid on those policies," she said.

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners praised the Government for removing the coverage of some natural therapies such as homeopathy, aromatherapy, pilates and yoga.

"That's a reasonable approach because private health insurance should only cover evidence based treatment," Dr Seidel said.

Westpac to refund $65m to customers .
Westpac will refund about $65 million to 200,000 customers who did not receive the correct discounts on home insurance and other products. Westpac is refunding about $65 million to 200,000 customers who did not receive discounts on insurance and other products to which they were entitled.The customers with Westpac premier advantage packages - or advantage packages with St George, BankSA, or Bank of Melbourne - did not receive the proper discounts on home and contents insurance, and term deposits.Westpac notified the financial regulator and is contacting customers over an issue it says dates back to 2010.

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