THE HON CATHERINE KING MP
SHADOW MINISTER FOR HEALTH AND MEDICARE
FEDERAL MEMBER FOR BALLARAT
Australia’s private health insurers must explain how their lavish Portugal junket delivered any benefit to their customers, who are struggling to keep up with relentless premium price rises.
This country is in the midst of a private health affordability crisis. People are downgrading and dropping their cover in droves, putting the entire industry at risk of a death spiral.
And yet insurance company chiefs somehow think it’s okay to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars – of their members’ money – to attend a talkfest on the other side of the world.
We know from today’s reports there were business class airfares, opulent hotels, fine dining, and even a luxury cruise – and that a number of officials tacked on private European jaunts.
How does this help an Australian facing huge out-of-pocket costs for surgery or a hospital stay? And how does it help bring down premiums?
We know that insurance management costs add more than $300 to the cost of an average premium – and now we know where that money goes.
The private health insurers love to cry poor. They claim Labor’s 2 per cent premium price cap – a strong policy that will deliver real savings of $340 to policyholders – will somehow take them to the brink.
Now we know that’s nonsense.
If the insurers were serious about bringing down premium prices they wouldn’t send their people on these lavish junkets. Before complaining about Labor’s policies – designed to help the industry enjoy a long-term future – they should consider tightening their own belts.
Profits and complaints are up. Value for money is down. Malcom Turnbull’s “reforms” are a sham and have failed to deliver any significant benefit to consumers.
While we welcome Greg Hunt’s move to finally detail his plans for a simplified Gold / Silver / Bronze premium classification system, this is just tinkering at the edges – it won’t actually bring down prices.
We are also concerned by reports that pregnant women will need to have to expensive top tier of premium if they want to be covered for obstetrics. We will be seeking more information from the Government on this point.
Only Labor has a real plan to bring down prices and save the private health insurance industry from itself.
SUNDAY, 15 JULY 2018