The public release of the Private Health Insurance Survey has revealed the Turnbull Government is preparing to penalise women, older Australians and people with chronic illness.
The survey makes clear the Turnbull Government is preparing to ditch a fundamental foundation of Australia’s system of private health insurance – community rating – which prevents heath funds discriminating against members on the basis of age, gender or health status.
Community rating ensures people pay into health funds when they are young and fit, but are then able to draw down as they age, start a family, or suffer a major health issues.
The survey confirms the minister’s highlighting of smoking was merely cover for a radical agenda to allow health funds to maximise profits, by levying higher premiums on people they believe are more likely to make a claim against their fund.
The survey specifically asks whether insurers should be permitted to charge different premiums:
- according to a person’s age
- according to a person’s gender
- according to a person’s health or their health risk factors
Alarmingly, the survey highlights the higher costs paid out to people over 75, making clear older Australians, many of whom have paid for health insurance for decades, are in the government’s sights.
The question about gender is also a clear sign women of child bearing age are likely to be forced to pay more while discrimination on the grounds of health status could see people with long term health conditions denied cover and forced into the public system.
The survey also asks whether the ban on health funds covering general practice should be lifted, a move which would undermine Medicare and drive up fees.
Contrary to the minister’s scaremongering, private health insurance membership continues to rise, covering a record 47.4 per cent of the population in the year to June.
However, this would plunge under the Turnbull Government’s agenda to allow health funds to discriminate against people on the basis of age, gender or health status.
Under this agenda health insurance would only be available to the young and the healthy, with only the wealthy able to afford private insurance as they age, seek to start a family, or develop a long term health condition.