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“Health funds should stop charging people for services they can’t get”: CHOICE

COVID-19 crisis means health insurance benefits will be at least 50% less. CHOICE calls for insurers to reduce premiums by 50%.

Consumer advocate CHOICE says health insurers should reduce premiums by 50% in light of the COVID-19 crisis.

"Government restrictions mean that people aren't going to be able to effectively use their private health insurance this year. The industry must return premiums to people who still have cover. 50% less availability of services should mean people pay 50% less in premiums," says CHOICE Health Insurance Expert Dean Price

"People won't be able to use the normal services that would allow them to claim on their private health insurance and insurers' costs will be going down as a result. External experts have calculated that the amount that insurers will pay for hospital treatment will be down by 50% (1). This reduction in services must be met by a reduction in premiums, otherwise people will continue to pay for services they can't use." 

Non-urgent elective surgeries, like hip replacements and cataract surgery have been cancelled. Dentists are limited to performing emergency procedures. Other extras services will also be impacted by physical distancing measures. 

While most private health insurance funds have delayed their premium increases until 1 October, this is only compensating people for the insurers pay out not going up this year. Further premium discounts are needed as the reduction in elective surgery and massively reduced access to extras services has not been reflected in the price of premiums. 

"Health funds must urgently take action to make sure people aren't paying for services they can't access. We urge the industry to do the right thing for people and reduce their premiums by 50% across the board and more where possible. We will call out any private health insurer who is ripping people off by making them pay the full price but only getting half the service."

More health insurance help from CHOICE available at: choice.com.au/healthinsurance

(1) Harvey R, and Campbell, R. Private eyes…, hips, etc: Health insurance benefits during the Covid crisis. The Australia Institute April 2020 https://www.tai.org.au/content/private-health-funds-reap-5-billion-pandemic-windfall

Media contact: Katelyn Cameron, 0430 172 669, media@choice.com.au

Editor's notes:

Advice for people with or considering health insurance is available at: https://www.choice.com.au/money/insurance/health/articles/keep-or-drop-health-insurance-covid-19