The Real Reason Private Health Insurance Premiums Keep Rising

Published: March 1, 2018

Why private health insurance premiums are risingThere are only 31 days left before health insurance premiums will rise by an average of 3.95%. The number of people who can afford to pay health insurance premiums has reached a new low with only 46.5% of Australians having private health insurance hospital cover, according to APRA’s 2017 quarterly statistics.

With so many people dropping their private health insurance and the increased demand for healthcare services from a growing and ageing population, private health funds are having to charge higher premiums, or they won’t be able to cover the cost of claims.

“Not enough young people are joining or remaining as policyholders to sustain its long-term viability”, said Macquarie’s team of health analysts who have highlighted the deteriorating trend in risk equalisation.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, says Philip Clark on Nightlife, “The biggest users of private health insurance hospital benefits are 60 to 79-year-olds”.

The head of Australia’s largest private hospital grouping, Craig McNally highlighted that the volume of care needed in a population with a growing proportion of older Australians is driving the costs of healthcare, leading to the rise of more expensive and more frequent health services.

Ian McAuley from the Centre for Policy development mentions three more reasons people are dropping their private health fund.

They’ve had their health insurance for a long time, but never claimed and argued that if they had saved the money spent on premiums they could have gone to a private hospital.

Others have submitted a claim and were then faced with the small print of exclusions and extras they had to pay, so they become disillusioned.

The third most common reason people are dumping their private health insurance is that they or someone they know have had a health incident and needed to go to a public hospital, where they discovered public hospitals to provide excellent treatment. Now they’re wondering why they’re still spending money on private healthcare if public is just as good.

However, Australian Medical Association WA president Omar Khorshid is worried that the increased numbers of people relying solely on the public health system might result in a growing number of people being placed on the waiting list for elective surgeries.

With more people using the healthcare system, in combination with our ageing population, private health funds won’t be able to survive without increasing premiums and Australians might have to wait longer to receive the treatments they need.

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