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“Private health is still not worth it for many Australians”: CHOICE

As elective surgeries slowly return, consumer advocate says Australians should demand value.

As Federal and State Governments open up elective surgeries, consumer advocate CHOICE is warning Australians they may still not get value out of their private health insurance.

"For many Australians it will be a relief to have their elective surgeries back on track," says Dean Price, Health Campaigner at CHOICE.

"But private health insurers are still set to reap huge savings from the elective surgeries still being deferred and the extras many are unable to claim. These savings shouldn't be going to private health profits, they should be swiftly back in the pockets of Australians as we deal with the economic and social cost of COVID-19."

Link: Should you keep or drop your health insurance during the COVID-19 crisis? - CHOICE.com.au

CHOICE advises (depending on personal circumstances) that Australians should consider:

1) Dropping extras cover

"This year you'll be unable to claim for many of your extras. Consider whether you'll get value for your extras this year," says Price.

2) Asking for hardship

"If COVID-19 has put you and your loved ones in financial hardship, you can ask your private health insurer to waive premiums or suspend your policy," says Price.

3) Dropping or downgrading your hospital cover

"You don't need private health cover to be treated for COVID-19 and the usual benefits of private health might not even be available to you right now, so you may consider dropping it completely for more pressing financial pressures you have," says Price.

A more detailed explanation of Australians' private health options during COVID-19 is available here: https://www.choice.com.au/money/insurance/health/articles/keep-or-drop-health-insurance-covid-19
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CHOICE is calling for a review of the private health system.

"This pandemic has highlighted many of the problems and inequities in the private health insurance and hospital systems. Surgeries have been cancelled and other services limited, health funds are charging us for services we can't use. It will be some time until our health system is back to normal, but the health funds continue to charge many of us as if everything is normal," says Price.

"People need premium relief. With 80% of people with private health insurance rating it as their number one cost of living concern before this global health and economic crisis, people will be again questioning the value of this product. People will continue to drop out of the health insurance market unless the government reviews the system and then takes strong action to ensure fair healthcare," says Price.

"The problems of cost and value are not new to this pandemic, even if they are different. The Australian Government needs to commission a thorough, independent and public review of the private health insurance system," says Price.

Australians can join the campaign for a better private health insurance and a review at: https://action.choice.com.au/page/59237/petition/1

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