Customers should be encouraged to shop around for the best deal as private health insurance premiums will increase substantially from April, says Health Minister Sussan Ley.
With a weighted industry average of 6.18% increase expected, Minister Ley says this is an ongoing challenge faced by successive governments, with Labor having approved average annual premium increases as high as 6% during their six years in office as well.
Those funds to increase fees beyond this average are NIB Funds, Medibank Private, HCF, Westfund to name a few while Doctors Health Fund has the lowest increase at 3.98%, followed by Health Insurance Fund at 4.49%.
The total benefits paid to private health insurance members grew by over $1bn–or 7.4% –to about $17.3bn in the 12 months to December last year.
Minister Ley encourages people unhappy with their current fund to check out the competition using the Government’s independent comparison website.
“Over 13 million Australians now have some form of private health insurance and it’s therefore essential for the health of our nation that we continue to maintain a strong and competitive market,” she says.
“To achieve that we must ensure any premiums increases strike the right balance between keeping them affordable for consumers without putting the financial viability of the sector at risk.
“With over 30 private health funds now operating in the Australian market, my strong advice to consumers is shop around to get the best deal if you are unhappy with your health fund’s offering.
“If you want independent advice on health insurance that is free of commissions, go to www.privatehealth.gov.au.”
Private health insurance benefits paid to members increased by 7.4% from $16.09bn in the December 2013 quarter to $17.28bn in December 2014 quarter.
The weighted industry average health insurance premium increase for 2014 was 6.2%.