THE HON CATHERINE KING
SHADOW MINISTER FOR HEALTH AND MEDICARE
MEMBER FOR BALLARAT
PRIVATE HEALTH INSURANCE COMPLAINTS SOAR AS TURNBULL DITHERS
Complaints about private health insurance have soared and more Australians are choosing to downgrade or ditch their cover in response to relentless price rises, unexpected out-of-pocket costs and growing exclusions.
The latest ACCC report into private health insurance paints a grim picture of the industry – with complaints up for a fourth consecutive year by another 30per cent.
The ACCC report confirms that the affordability of private health insurance is second only to electricity prices in terms of cost-of-living concerns. It’s no wonder then that people are downgrading to cheaper policies with more exclusions and restrictions – or in many cases leaving the market altogether.
And exclusions continue to rise. As the report notes, in June 2017 40per cent of hospital policies held had exclusions, compared with 38 per cent in June 2016. There was also an increase in hospital policies with an excess or co-payment over the same period – from 82 per cent to 83 per cent.
Labor backs the ACCC’s calls for the industry to make its products more consumer friendly by providing more reliable and transparent information about product features and changes to policies – including details of gaps.
Malcolm Turnbull and Greg Hunt meanwhile are merely tinkering at the edges, failing to address the real problems with the industry or deliver any meaningful reduction in prices.
Under the Liberals, premiums have increased by 27per cent since 2014 – costing families an average $1,000 more. Meanwhile, the insurers remain extremely profitable, which figures released earlier this year showed private health insurer profits are up yet again and they’re pocketing $3.7 billion more than they’re paying out in benefits.
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 2per 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.
TUESDAY, 26 JUNE 2018