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Electricity and healthcare costs cast economic shadow

CHOICE says healthcare costs and electricity prices are the top cause for concern across Australia.

03 April 2017

Around four out of five Australian households have cited electricity and healthcare as a source of economic worry, in CHOICE’s latest national Consumer Pulse report. 

Rising electricity prices have consistently topped the list for Australian households, with 81% worried about the cost of their power. 

"With the federal government ordering a review into electricity retail pricing, following spikes in power costs on the east coast, consumers across the country are asking questions about the current approach to market regulation – and deregulation – for this essential service," says CHOICE CEO Alan Kirkland.  

Concerns over healthcare costs tied with electricity prices as private health insurance premiums rose on Saturday by an average of 4.8%, taking the cumulative increase since 2009 to almost 55%.

"Consumers clearly feel that medical expenses are soaring and the continuous price hikes to private health premiums are doing little to abate that fear," Mr Kirkland says.

"This latest insight into consumer sentiment underlines the importance of reforms to the health insurance market, to give consumers more information about the options available to them and make it easier for them to find good value policies.

"These price concerns are putting Australians under pressure, with almost a third of all households struggling to get by on their current income."

There was some better news around the overall attitude to the economy, largely led by NSW, with 27% of Australian households rating the economy as good. 

"Economic sentiment has rebounded slightly from the low levels seen in December last year, unfortunately the exception to this is in WA where one in two people fear they or their partner will lose their job," says Mr Kirkland. 

Media contact:
Tom Godfrey, CHOICE Head of Media: 0430 172 669

Top findings

  1. Electricity and healthcare costs are tied at 81% as the number one household cost concern.
  2. 29% of households are finding it difficult to get by on their current income.
  3. 85% of Australian consumers believe their household bills have increased in the past 12 months.
  4. Confidence in the Australian economy has rebounded from the low levels seen in December 2016 to similar levels seen last March with 27% rating the Australian economy as good.
  5. Gen X and Y are feeling mortgage and rent pressure more than older generations with 71% concerned with these costs compared to 53% of baby and pre-boomers.

Notes to editors:
Consumer Pulse research is a study conducted by CHOICE among a sample of 1006 respondents aged 18–75 years. The sample is a nationally representative of the Australian population, based on the 2011 ABS Census data.. The study was conducted via an online self-complete survey in partnership with The ORU. The ORU is an ISO 20252 / ISO 26362 accredited panel provider and full AMSRO member. Fieldwork was undertaken from 01 to 10 March 2017.