THE HON. CATHERINE KING
SHADOW MINISTER FOR HEALTH AND MEDICARE
MEMBER FOR BALLARAT
Private health insurer profits are up yet again, with the latest official data revealing they’re pocketing $3.7 billion more than they’re paying out in benefits.
The latest Australian Prudential Regulation Authority figures show the insurers took in nearly $23.8 billion in revenue from premiums in the year to March 2018 but paid out only $20.1 billion in benefits.
Premium revenue rose 4 per cent while total benefits increased by only 3 per cent – increasing the insurers’ gross margin from 13.6 per cent to 14.4 per cent.
That means the 13 million Australians with private health insurance are each contributing about $280 a year to the bottom line of the insurers, rather than to consumer benefits.
Insurers’ net profit after tax was $1.38 billion for the year to March 2018 compared with $1.35 billion in the previous 12 months.
The APRA figures also show that the number of people with hospital cover as a proportion of the population continues to decline – down another 0.1 per cent in just three months to 45.5 per cent.
These latest figures show yet again why Labor’s plan to improve affordability – by capping premiums and ordering a major review of the industry – is so sorely needed.
It’s clear that under Malcolm Turnbull, private health insurance isn’t about giving Australians choice and control over their health care – it’s about giving big business another way to profit off ordinary people.
Under the Liberals, premiums have increased by 27 per cent since 2014 – costing families an average $1,000 more. Health insurance is now a leading cost-of-living concern, right up there with energy bills.
Faced with these sorts of costs, it’s now wonder Australians are ditching their cover: nearly 12,000 people dropped their hospital insurance in the last three months of 2017.
Unlike Turnbull’s health insurance “reforms” – which were designed by the industry itself and resulted in a double-inflation price rise this year – Labor’s policies will deliver tangible benefits to ordinary Australian families.
Labor will cap premium price increases at 2 per cent for two years, delivering families an average saving of $340 and shifting the balance back in the favour of consumers rather than company executives.
We will also task the Productivity Commission with a sweeping review to identify long-term sustainable ways to bring down costs and improve quality.
THURSDAY, 17 MAY 2018