Not For Profit HBF and HCF Reveal Unexpected Merger
Together, HBF and HCF might become the nation’s third-biggest health insurer, combining the largest health fund in Western Australia with its East coast competitor. Such a union could create a $4 billion company with a combined 2.5 million customers and 18.5% market share.
“Strategically, this merger would create a truly national player with the combined strength to grow both brands and better compete in what is a challenging industry”, stated HCF chief executive Sheena Jack.
The proposed merger follows last year’s intense and aggressive government scrutiny regarding health insurance premiums. With all parties under tremendous pressure to reduce costs, this merger of equals would provide a significant increase in size which will enable greater benefits to be passed on to members, according to Ms Jack.
By gaining a larger share of the consumer health insurance market a combined HCF and HBF will be in a position to provide consumers with more benefits in the form of lower premiums, better services, or more generous plans.
HBF chief executive, John Van Der Wielen, has faith that by combining these two not-for-profit groups they will be better able to compete against the for-profit health insurers and provide a truly national presence. “We want to continue to provide our policyholders with the best possible health cover in a competitive market”, confirmed Mr Der Wielen.
With the goal to provide greater operational efficiencies at a lower cost, HBF Chairman, Tony Crawford believes their premiums will be more competitive than anyone else in Australia. “In combining Australia’s two largest not-for-profit health funds, this merger would bring together two companies with common values and a shared commitment to put members first”, concluded Mr Crawford.
Counsellors for each not-for-profit organisation are set to vote on the merger in March 2018. The two entities will be joined under the umbrella of a brand new corporation, but retain their individual identities and continue to be run by their own management.
The merger is set to be completed by middle 2018, subject to regulatory approval. In the meantime, there will be no changes to existing services, benefits, or entitlements and the premium changes announced for April 2018 will remain unaffected.
To appease the government and their customers, private health funds will need to be more prominent to gain an economy of scale and keep costs low. We can’t help but wonder whether this the first in a year of merger frenzies. Will the hunger for acquisitions and alliances continue to grow?
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