Australians will continue to be caught out by private health insurance policies which don’t cover basic procedures, with reports the Turnbull Government will break an election commitment to act on junk policies.
The Government went to the election with a clear commitment to “weed out junk policies” and protect consumers from worthless policies:
“Because, what we don’t want is the Government subsidising junk policies and unfortunately, there’s a few of those out there.” [Sussan Ley, Australian Financial Review, October 2016]
Having failed to do anything to address Australians being caught out by junk policies, they are set to walk away from the commitment altogether.
Experts, including the Australian Medical Association, have been calling on the Government to act on these policies:
“Some policies are designed to do no more than avoid the tax penalty if you don’t have health insurance. Others offer nothing more than treatment in a public hospital, which is the same as being uninsured. These are junk policies. They should be banned.” [MICHAEL GANNON, AUSTRALIAN FINANCIAL REVIEW, 23 AUGUST 2017]
And consumers themselves have been clear that they don’t want to be caught out by these policies:
“We think it’s time for the federal government to take action and make junk policies ineligible for any tax rebate.” [CHOICE, MEDIA RELEASE, 10 FEBRUARY 2017]
“A good start would be removing subsidies for ‘junk’ insurance.” [CONSUMERS’ HEALTH FORUM, SUBMISSION TO SENATE INQUIRY, JULY 2017]
Between 2007 and 2016, the proportion of health insurance policies with exclusions jumped from 7 per cent to almost 39 per cent – meaning Australians are increasingly finding they are not covered for important procedures when they need them.
“The Government went to the election with a clear cut promise to act on junk private health insurance policies, and they haven’t done a thing,” said Catherine King, Shadow Minister for Health and Medicare.
“We are hearing that people are increasingly being caught out by not being covered for important procedures like hip and knee replacements and heart surgery – and the Government still won’t act.
“This is another broken election promise from a Government that can’t be trusted on health.”