Health premiums set to soar

Health insurance premiums tipped to rise by more than 10 per cent per annum.

Health premiums set to soar

Research from UBS analyst, James Coghill, suggests health insurance premiums are set to rise by up to 10 per cent per year, for the next five years.

Whilst the usual annual increases are likely to account for a rise of approximately six per cent, they will also be affected by a change in the way the health insurance rebate is indexed, resulting in a reduced rebate and even higher premiums. With the rate of inflation in Australia currently sitting at less than three per cent, such high increases mean many low wage earners and pensioners will struggle to continue to pay their premiums. For older Australians, relinquishing health insurance is a difficult call at a time when health needs can often increase.

Read more at the Australian Financial Review

Opinion: Can you afford health cover?

Private health insurance coverage rose from 31 per cent to 41 per cent of the population in the year following the introduction of the rebate and lifetime cover rules.

Those who choose private health insurance do so for the unforeseen – an unexpected diagnosis of a chronic condition, accident or perhaps a stroke. Many keep health cover in order to be able to have more choice in relation to their medical team and where they might be hospitalised. So to have the rate of premiums rising at double, triple or even four times inflation is a matter of great concern.

It is clear that it is bordering on impossible for those on a full Age Pension to afford such cover; those who do must be going without nearly everything else. So what should be done about these increases? As the funds are required to seek approval for increases from the Federal Minister for Health, this is as good a place as any to start. Perhaps we should be asking why the funds usually get the increases they request?

However, maybe another answer is to be found in the detail reported in the Australian Financial Review (AFR) yesterday? According to the AFR, the current industry ‘switching rate’ is four per cent. With so many comparison websites now available to rate the various features of health policies, it shouldn’t be too difficult to measure the cost of your policy against others. And of course, to change if you feel you are not receiving value for money.

The difficulty, of course, lies in the fact that you won’t really know how your insurer performs until you test it by making a claim. And it may be that the best value health insurance is not the cheapest – but the one that truly covers you in a time of crisis. As always, buyer beware is the best policy and reading the fine print is the first step.

What about you? Do you have private health insurance? Can you afford to keep it if premiums rise at the predicted rate?





    COMMENTS

    To make a comment, please register or login
    Gee Whiz
    22nd Jul 2015
    10:12am
    I'v had private health cover most of my life. We made sacrifices to to keep the cover going but this new impost may be the straw that breaks the Camels back.

    My sister has never had health cover. She uses the public sector for medical treatment and has enjoyed the best service and treatment anyone could ask for.

    The cost of Private Health is now becoming unaffordable. And its quite clear that the Minister for health is on the side of the private health insurers.

    And while the insurers are enjoying extra profits from the rising premiums they are at the same time reducing the types illnesses they will now cover.

    A story in our local paper reports that Medibank Private is now advising local hospitals they will no longer cover any side effects from the use of Chemotherapy that requires a longer stay in hospital.

    Maybe this is the sort of bastardry that the Minister should be looking at.

    But then we know whose he is on anyway. And its not the tax paying public that's for sure.
    Troubadour
    22nd Jul 2015
    11:07am
    We too have had Private Health cover for the 40 + years we have lived in Australia,
    and the increase in premiums last time took us to the edge, we cannot now afford these rises as Full Age Pensioners - so will have to re-consider our options and probably bail out of the Hospital cover at least and cut back on the ancillary. A scary thought but on a very limited budget - what else?
    MICK
    22nd Jul 2015
    12:23pm
    Good post Gee Whiz. I am with your sister....but am concerned that something serious may see us not covered. My attitude is that we have had a fair life and that it does not have to go on forever. I have no intention of helping the health insurers to build an empire of well overpaid directors and CEOs.
    fearlessfly
    22nd Jul 2015
    10:47am
    If this happens it will be the last straw for me as well, I'll certainly be bailing out !
    Kato
    22nd Jul 2015
    10:53am
    Yep Im going to the public system.
    biddi
    22nd Jul 2015
    12:10pm
    Had health cover for my husband when he had cancer. The bloke over the road
    had cancer and no health cover. He didn't pay a dime (for excellent treatment) at a public hospital. We always had to pay for something with private health cover!!
    MICK
    22nd Jul 2015
    3:56pm
    I've heard this too biddi. The only advantage from what I can see is that private cover gets you treatment tomorrow whilst public cover may mean a wait of 6 months. This can of course be the difference between surviving and not. Personally I will not be too unhappy if it is time to go provided that life offers a bit more than work and pain.
    marls
    22nd Jul 2015
    4:09pm
    my brother had cancer he was admitted immediately to public hospital and had the best treatment. he never had private cover and he never paid a cent for any treatment and whilst in hospital all his medication was free.
    MICK
    22nd Jul 2015
    9:05pm
    If a condition is life threatening you get immediate attention. If it can wait then you wait. Sometimes for a long time.
    Stevie Wonder
    22nd Jul 2015
    11:00am
    The government need to bring the specialists under control their fees are just getting out of control, the government keeps complaining about the high wages in Australia of the worker but have they ever bothered to control the specialists.
    I had a knee operation just a scrape & clean and the charge was nearly $5000.00 above what my insurer payed. Don't say you should get prices from other specialists as the cost of just seeing these greedy people prevents this. The car park at the hospital had a number of luxury vehicles with their number plates reading KNEES, HIPS etc. I am not against these people making a good living but they have gone overboard with their charges.
    TREBOR
    22nd Jul 2015
    11:33am
    Overblown sense of entitlement, Stevie. Been creeping into the medical profession for ages now. I think a lot of them saw that scene in Falling Down:-

    "What kind of a doctor lives here?"

    "Plastic surgeon."

    Plastic surgery bought all this? I'm in the wrong business."
    disillusioned
    22nd Jul 2015
    11:35am
    Yes I agree Stevie. I recently had a kidney biopsy and it has cost a ridiculous amount in a private hospital. I pay top cover with Medibank Private and am hugely out of pocket for this quite minor procedure. I would be better saving the money I pay on monthly premiums and pay for health services if and when I need them. Sadly I don't have the discipline to do this, but after paying private health all my working life - over 50 years I will be having to let it go when I retire. The insurance companies can't lose - they are propped up by the government with our tax dollars, are modifying what services they will fund - and what is worse people don't know this until they have to use medical services, they are screwing private hospitals and refusing to cover some of their patients now -for eg Calvary Health. Specialists have absolutely no cap on what they charge and their accountants have more say over medical matters than health administrators. All this on top of the creeping privatization of public hospital services.
    MICK
    22nd Jul 2015
    3:58pm
    Don't even think about getting sick in the US stevie. Doctors are paid ridiculous sums of money over there and your operation would probably have had another zero on the end.
    marls
    22nd Jul 2015
    4:12pm
    stevie i have never seen a specials or doctor have an ordinary car i know one doctor who owns 7 houses in sydney and paid off a luxury car as well and she only works a couple of days per week. greed gone mad
    MICK
    22nd Jul 2015
    9:06pm
    Sounds a bit far fetched marls. In the US this could be true.
    andromeda143
    22nd Jul 2015
    11:07am
    I could not possibly afford to pay 10% per annum extra. This is totally unjustified. The system was better before Howard introduced fund subsidy to revive an industry which was dying. The private health funds should be no longer subsidised and the money should be put back into direct public health funding. If necessary the medicare levy should be increased to add to public funding and everyone then would be paying a fair share and getting fairer treatment in a good public system of health. This was what Whitlam and Fraser envisaged and is the better way to go.
    Jen
    22nd Jul 2015
    11:40am
    I agree, but both side of government these days, are in the business of divesting themselves of responsibility for their citizens, and propping up private enterprises.
    Patriot
    22nd Jul 2015
    12:16pm
    Jen
    That's where the "Money Is". FOR THEM !!!!!
    MICK
    22nd Jul 2015
    4:01pm
    Jen: what both sides of government have been doing for the past couple of decades is flogging off bits of the nation in public ownership to business interests, most of them overseas. So why do these people buy our public assets? A no brainer.
    I have been highlighting the above for some time. Australians need to get with it and stop voting for either side of mainstream politics. That is the only way to stop the rot.....although there is not much left to sell any more.
    Patriot
    22nd Jul 2015
    7:46pm
    mick
    No disagreement from me here!
    However, "This Time Around" we MUST PRACTICE "DUE DILIGENCE" and 'KEEP THE BAST**DS HONEST!".
    Crimmo
    22nd Jul 2015
    11:11am
    I too have had health insurance all my adult life and I need to keep it as I have Barrots and bowel cancer in the family. I go to hospital every two years for this to be checked. Health insurance has always been one of the Great Australian Ripoffs. All Great Australian Ripoffs have been engineered by government. It does make sense for the government to make health insurance for the older Australian unaffordable because they would prefer us to die early and not be a burden to them.
    Patriot
    22nd Jul 2015
    11:13am
    Whilst never displaying DIRECT symptoms before, a few years ago my gallbladder had to be removed because it had turned "Gangrenous" due to a 30mm rock in its neck cutting off the blood supply to it.

    For years previously to this I had telling my GP that it was not a "Shortage of Pills" which caused my "General Unwelness". He just did not believe me and was unable to find the problem before it manifested in a spectecular way identified the 1st day as "Food Poisoning" but the 2nd day - finally - for what it was!

    I have not been in a "Private Fund" for many years as they just have become "To Greedy".
    I can vouch that the "Public System" is excellent in Quality & Quantity of Care "Once your In".

    It is the "getting in" that takes some doing and - with the "GREED now becoming Addictive" and Governments becoming Subservient to the Medical & Associated Industries this FEAT will become increasingly challenging in the "Years Ahead".

    I therefore can recommend only one "Course of Action". GET HEALTHY & DIE of "Old Age". Grow your own food, avoid ALL junk and what you have to buy in supermarkets - at all costs - avoid the foods with a "Bar Code" on it as these are the foods that have "been processed to Death". They deserve to carry the "Skull & Bones" emblem.

    FIGHT UNCONDITIONAL GREED !!!
    TREBOR
    22nd Jul 2015
    11:37am
    So what is our answer? Socialised medicine such as in Britain? All doctors on salaries.... Michael Moore's program on that issue was revealing - the doctors on salaries lived very well, thank you - paid for their skills and training.

    Would that work in a wide open and spread out country like Australia? The cost of patient transport alone from remote areas is tremendous.
    Patriot
    22nd Jul 2015
    11:56am
    TREBOR
    I can perceive a 2-Pronged solution:
    1 - FORCE the current (& future) govts to adhere to the interests of the Aust People rather than the Corporations and ensure that the "Public System" keeps going & maintains it's quality.
    2 - Get healthy & be prepared to "Disappoint" the JunkFood Corporations like Woolworth, Coles, IGA, McDonalds, KFC & "All the Others" and stop purchasing their UTTER CRAP & ADDICTIVE JUNK!!!
    Grow (at least) some of your own and you'll find that even a balcony can produce quite some QUALITY food.
    Buy direct from the grower, markets, farms etc.
    Community gardens are excellent for growing food as well as social contacts.

    We HAVE to become MORE SelfReliant and forget to rely on the Government.
    They - unless we have enough GUTS - will keep serving the Corporations!!!
    MICK
    22nd Jul 2015
    4:04pm
    Patriot: and how do you think we can make the bastards care about us...rather than themselves and their election funding mates whose interests always come first?
    The only way to stop the rot is to NOT vote for either side of politics. Not palatable to some but its either take the medicine or see the country collapse. No other way out!
    harmonybree
    22nd Jul 2015
    11:21am
    Why don't we adopt the Canadian way. NO Private health system. Make it equal for all. I have also worked for medical specialists for many years and it's true the best staff for say, chemotherapy is in the public sector. Why do we stand for these automatic increases when pensions and wages don't rise by this amount. How dare the minister agree. Aren't they SUPPOSED to be on the side of the people that voted for them...
    MICK
    22nd Jul 2015
    4:06pm
    Remember IT ALL COSTS. Where the Canadians have done well is they do not pay their doctors the ridiculous sums of money which you see in the US. But of course American doctors have a very strong and well funded lobby group to make sure that their interests are maintained.
    Pablo
    22nd Jul 2015
    11:25am
    I have suffered a number of health problems in the last 3 years, including chemo for cancer treatment. When I was trying to decide whether to use my private health insurance (which covers me for my choice of specialist in a public hospital), I found that the specialists I needed to use did not practice in the local public hospital and I would have had to go to the local private hospital. And this is not a small country town we are talking about, it is Townsville! So I have used the public hospital as a public patient and I could not have been happier. I have ALWAYS been seen quickly by around 6 or 7 specialists and have ALWAYS received the treatment I needed in a very acceptable timeframe. I have nothing but praise for the doctors, nurses and staff of the Townsville General Hospital and will definitely continue to use the public health system.
    Pablo
    22nd Jul 2015
    11:31am
    I just wish I had the guts to opt out of the Private Health Insurance ripoff, but I keep thinking "what if ....?" And that is what the Government and the Private Health Providers rely on - the SCARE FACTOR!
    jackie
    22nd Jul 2015
    11:27am
    I stopped when insurance companies got too greedy.
    TREBOR
    22nd Jul 2015
    11:30am
    Never forget that means 10% on the existing premium each year - which is actually a lot more than a total of 50%. I forget the formula - no use for it in life - but you know what I mean. Year 1 - 10% of $100 = $10 - Year 2 - 10% of $110 = $11 (total $121), Year 3 - 10% of $121 = $12.10 (total $133.10) Year 4 - 10% of $133.10 = $13.31 (total $146.41), Year 5 - 10% of $146.41 = $14.64 (TOTAL $167.05).

    Effective rate rise over five years of 67.05% - not 50% - and the longer it goes on with no guarantee that after five years the funds won't throw themselves on the floor like the electricity suppliers and cry poor again and again - the worse the actual percentage rise gets. Another two years of rise and it will be double what it started at. (Year 6 - 10% of $167.05 = 16.71 (total $183.76).. one more year and you are over 100% actual cost rise (10% of $183.76 = $18.38(TOTAL COST) - $202.14. Total percentage rise after 7 years is 102.14%).

    Stay on top here, people...... this is what happened with electricity, and will continue to happen with all services here while ever privatisation holds sway, and there are extra layers of administration and 'management' and board members to support in royal style.

    At the same time employment and real wages will be in decline, and under-employment will rise.

    How many people are going to be able to sustain private health care under those circumstances? The government has the answer to that, too - phase out Medicare, raise the cost of seeing the quack, and ensure that Austerity is enforced by stealth, but only on the peons.

    Now - who has the answer to this? Certainly not Labor, who are still welded at the hip (sic) to feminist ideology and the myths surrounding it, and have lost their way in the wilderness since the 1980's as a result.

    I have yet to see any government of any stamp here actually remove anything set in place that costs the peons more - don't try arguing the Carbon and Mining Super-Profit taxes which never had a chance to bite - and every imposition on the peasantry remains in place so that government continues to reap the revenue from it - and then still cries poor.

    Look at the current nonsense argument about raising the GST.... I rest my case - more taxation - less of everything - higher costs of everything - higher costs of living as a result.

    Then government cries that the cost of labour is too high.

    Pay monkeys and all you get is monkey do-do all over the place.

    Who will save us from this pestilent government of two parties?
    Patriot
    22nd Jul 2015
    11:46am
    TREBOR
    Agree with ALL you've written.

    Only WE can save OURSELVES !
    Will we "Have the GUTS though???
    MICK
    22nd Jul 2015
    4:08pm
    From what I see of politics Trebor I doubt it. People want what is bad for them and then want to blame the problem rather than their own stupidity.
    tia-maria
    22nd Jul 2015
    11:32am
    We were in a Health Cover right up to the 90s and was unable to continue with our health fund due to change in our finances at the time...........When we went and rejoin ............ the Government has made things so Difficult for us to try and stay in because the.......... LEVY IS OUT OF CONTROL............ and Our Politicians......... should understand the struggle that pensioners go through trying to keep up with our payments now...........WHO CAN SPEAK UP FOR US AGAINST THESE POLITICIANS TO DROP THE LEVY OF 40% BACK TO THE NORMAL DOWN TO EARTH FEES..........AS WE NEED TO BE IN ONE DUE TO CHRONIC HEALTH ISSUES.
    MICK
    22nd Jul 2015
    4:10pm
    You are assuming that the bastards care. They don't. Neither side. Least of all the current bunch of coal owned misfits.
    VOTE FOR AN INDEPENDENT (whose preference does not go to this government) and you have taken the first step in throwing off your shackles.
    tia-maria
    22nd Jul 2015
    5:41pm
    Thanks Mick will take that on board..........As I don't trust any Politicians what so ever.
    Jen
    22nd Jul 2015
    11:34am
    This government is taking us down a pathway similar to the US.

    It's about propping up corporations and the government getting out of all services to its population. All services will be run by private enterprise. It's happening in leaps and bounds in just 2 years of Coalition government. Labor are not much better.
    TREBOR
    22nd Jul 2015
    11:40am
    Spot on, Jen - hence my reference to Falling Down above. You could perhaps view that film through different goggles these days........
    Jen
    22nd Jul 2015
    11:55am
    It's actually very scary, Trebor. The secret TPP which is days/weeks from being signed (apparently) is not just about propping up corporations, but making corporations God. Vote Independent or Greens, put LNP last. We are nearly beyond help.
    Patriot
    22nd Jul 2015
    12:05pm
    Jen,
    You're right!

    They are about to "Close the Gate to the SlaughterHouse" with a lock which has a combination that is extremely difficult to unravel.
    Once that has been achieved, reversal of the Situation/Condition is very difficult and could/will become very UGLY.
    tia-maria
    22nd Jul 2015
    3:40pm
    jen your spot on mate cheers
    MICK
    22nd Jul 2015
    4:11pm
    Yes Jen. And some people still do not change their voting habits. Crazy!
    hmmm
    22nd Jul 2015
    11:52am
    maybe the private health companies are trying to get rid of the people who NEED them the MOST.
    Anonymous
    22nd Jul 2015
    11:57am
    yES OF COURSE THEY ARE THEY DON"T WANT TO KEEP PAYING FOR PEOPLE WHO ALWAYS NEED THERE SERVICES THEY WANT HEALTHY PEOPLE TO INSURE ONLY AND THEN THEY MAKE MORE PROFIT.
    MICK
    22nd Jul 2015
    4:13pm
    Now you are thinking like big business. Insure your car, crash it every year, and then see what happens to your premium. I dare say that health premiums may follow this model.........no claim bonus for not claiming???? Give it time.
    Disco Diver
    22nd Jul 2015
    11:55am
    I paid for private health insurance for years, Iam an aged pensioner and I pulled out of the private system on the last increese as it is now unaffordable.
    I am now using the public system, also useing the public system for dental health that only cost me 25 per cent of the bill which is cheaper than the private system.
    MICK
    22nd Jul 2015
    4:13pm
    So many posters are saying the same thing.
    VJ
    22nd Jul 2015
    11:59am
    I relinquished private hospital cover when we went on the Age Pension. I am about to relinquish other cover as we are paying for something for which there is little return. I am banking the amount I would have paid in a special account so we can use as needed and not when we don't.
    MICK
    22nd Jul 2015
    4:14pm
    Good for you. Just remember to resist the temptation to raid the cookie jar.
    mercman
    22nd Jul 2015
    12:28pm
    All the comments about public health are OK, but what happens when you need a knee replacement, cataract operation or some non-urgent elective procedure - there can be a very long wait for the public system, whereas with private cover you can usually get prompt service.
    What is needed is the Gov should require the Medical profession to justify their charges and set a schedule of fees for each procedure. These fees would be the maximum that can be charged and they could be reviewed at set times.
    Advances in medicine result in a lot of new, very expensive equipment and this often the cause for high specialist fees. Maybe it should be possible for the Gov to subsidise this equipment for the private doctors, provided they stick to a schedule fee.
    RJ
    22nd Jul 2015
    12:48pm
    read this mercman:

    http://peoplepledge.com.au/blog/cost-of-cataracts-surgery-in-australia/

    I could wait a few weeks...
    KSS
    22nd Jul 2015
    1:10pm
    mercman the Government already sets a schedule of fees, its called Medicare.
    MICK
    22nd Jul 2015
    4:16pm
    Not everybody needs these. If you put away your money for that day should it eventuate you will get instant attention as well as a tax deduction for the treatment. A good deal if you can utilise the tax deduction.
    Otherwise roll the dice and stay on the public system. You may have to wait but then many do.
    margie
    22nd Jul 2015
    9:33pm
    mercman, I am having a knee replacement in the public system in 2 days time after waiting 6 months. Previously I was in private health cover and had the other knee replaced and still had to wait over 4 months for the surgeon to have free time. I have had all the prep and can see no difference in my treatment so far to when I was paying the large sum to remain in private cover, and I was over $1.000 out of pocket in private. No way can I afford on a pension to be in a private fund, I will receive rehab, some cleaning services when I am home and a nurse calling each day for at least a week, pretty good service I think. Hopefully I won't be singing another song after the operation, fingers crossed.
    Patriot
    22nd Jul 2015
    12:43pm
    Whilst the attitude towards Russia (from the Western World) is Demonisation and "Hatred Incitation", it is true that: "Russia's pharmaceutical repertoire is made up of 55 to 60% botanicals".
    No CODEX ALIMENTARIUS there!!!
    Could we learn something from this??

    May be we would be walking down the street "Sloshing" because of the "Heath Teas" we would be consuming rather than "Rattling" because of all the pills we're taking.
    At least the "Side Effects" would - most likely - not kill us!!!
    MICK
    22nd Jul 2015
    4:17pm
    Change that avatar Patriot. Frank may be a rabid dog (did I really say that) but I'm sure you are not. Where's the smilie icon????
    KSS
    22nd Jul 2015
    1:08pm
    Ignoring for a moment that this is not an announced rise of 10% in premiums, what people are forgetting is that this would be the average of the price increases. Over the last few years with advertised rises in the region of 6-7%, the increases in the older Australian age group has already been more like between 10 and 20% depending on the insurer. Why? Because this age group makes more claims and for more expensive services. And this will continue to be the case.

    With each new medical advance, we expect it to be made available to all who might need it. Of course we don't want to pay for it, we want the Government to pay. But who gives the Government the money to pay? Well we do through tax. But we don't want to pay more tax so we look for another scapegoat. Ah yes.... the "Rich", the multinationals, the "greedy" specialists, 'big pharma'...... Wait a minute.... Big pharma? The very organisations who research and develop the medical advances that we all want and don't want to pay for? Surely not!

    Medical costs are out of hand because we demand that 'something' must be done in every instance. So we save the baby born at under 20 weeks, we prolong the life of the very sick and elderly even when there is no quality of life, we 'buy' extra weeks or months of life with drugs that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars per dose regardless. As a result costs spiral out of control. Just because we can, doesn't mean we should do these things. But the expectation is there and patient and/or family demands mean it will continue unabated. Insurance companies cannot keep up with the increasing costs and up go the premiums and down go the cover. And the cycle begins all over again.

    But there are things that the individual can do to reduce their own costs and Patriot has outlined many of them. We also need to change the focus of the medical profession to that of preventative medicine and away from treatment-at-all-costs. The biggest consumers of medical services are those suffering 'lifestyle' conditions (diabetes and its attendant complications, heart disease, obesity, and the like) all of which are avoidable if people took responsibility for their own health.

    Finally like any other kind of insurance, automatically renewing the premium without first spending some time comparing policies is your own fault. If enough people did their homework and changed funds as a result, there would be some pressure to keep increases reasonable. But they will never be in line with the cost of living or even inflation. It cannot be if we always want the latest and greatest drugs and procedures.
    Patriot
    22nd Jul 2015
    1:25pm
    KSS,
    I believe that it is essential to change the definition of "The GOOD Life" in order to practice "preventive rather than Corrective" medicine.
    It's our "Life Style that's Killing Us" and resolving this might mean that we're becoming considerably less of "A CONSUMER".
    We also MUST reconsider the definition of LIVING as the figures/statistics indicating that we currently LIVE longer are including our "Final 20 years". These years are "Just Existing" for many of us.

    Life MUST mean QUALITY rather than "Just Beathing" and being able to spend "Sombody's Tax money" on PILLS which will just make us even sicker but prolong the "Mathematical Definition" of "Being Alive".

    Changing our LifeStyle as suggested, will - generally - prolong "Quality Life" whilst such MAY be reducing the "Mathematical Definition" op what BigPharma calls LIFE.

    One MUST decide One's options and COPE with the Consequences of such Selections!
    Unfortunately, "Life is a Roulette" and this formula does not work 100% of the time. LUCK also seems to play a minor factor!
    KSS
    22nd Jul 2015
    2:51pm
    I agree with the thrust of your argument Patriot.
    MICK
    22nd Jul 2015
    4:20pm
    KSS: the health care industry has been submitting increases way above inflation for many years. More and more people reaching retirement age is an invalid argument as there are more and more people (a growing population) taking up insurance. So the end result should be about the same. The only real issue I can foresee is that technology is costing more.
    KSS
    22nd Jul 2015
    5:22pm
    mick: If you mean the health insurance industry then say so. The health care industry is something else entirely. And please point to where I said more and more people are reaching retirement age is a valid argument for increases.
    MICK
    22nd Jul 2015
    9:12pm
    Bad English for sure KSS. Thanks.
    Probably reading something into your blog which was not there. Apologies.
    Inky Black
    22nd Jul 2015
    1:21pm
    What is the matter with you people? Go out and get a better-paying job ... that's Joe's advice! Oh, now wait ... that's for housing ... oh well, same logic. Joe seems to have managed OK, so why can't the rest of us?
    MICK
    22nd Jul 2015
    4:23pm
    Joe has a "better paying job". He and his fellow MPs have managed to double their pay in only a 3 year period. Good job. And then there are the retirement perks which only judges can access but nobody else.
    The irony is that you and many others keep voting the same bastards in. My advice, as always, is vote in Independents (with a preference which does not flow to this government) as this is the only way to change the game.
    migmag
    22nd Jul 2015
    1:43pm
    Am I right in thinking the "not for Profit" health insurance is a better/less expensive choice? such as Gmhba
    KSS
    22nd Jul 2015
    2:47pm
    Pretty much migmag in that profits are used for the members of the fund not shareholders. But the real message is to always shop around for the best policy and price to meet your needs. Don't simply renew an existing policy.
    Tom Tank
    22nd Jul 2015
    2:07pm
    We have a government who believe that all businesses should be self supporting, i e making a profit without any government support. They shut down the car industry based upon that believe and the full effects of that are still to be felt.
    The private health industry however are an exception getting massive subsidies in order to stay afloat. Surely commonsense indicates that there is a major problem with our whole health industry, being partly driven by blind ideology, which is against the best interests of the Australian public.
    A new funding model is needed and the original concept of universal healthcare was sound but has been undermined by successive governments and their drive to dismantle it and replace it with the American system. God helps us.
    MICK
    22nd Jul 2015
    4:27pm
    There is a much much wider issue Tom.
    BOTH sides of politics have entered into a SELL OFF EVERYTHING game with the blessing of brain dead economists.....most of whom they have more than likely paid off to get their blessing. So now we own little or nothing, have to pay third parties and overseas investors for most everything, import most of our needs and borrow money to support our lifestyle.
    The above is why I keep urging people to stop voting for either side of politics. It is impossible to change a corrupt and perverse system by voting for the crooks.
    WendyP
    22nd Jul 2015
    2:43pm
    Yes let's keep the price of Health funds going up some more, then people will opt out and put even more pressure on the public system!!!!
    MICK
    22nd Jul 2015
    4:28pm
    Damned if you do. Damned if you don't. Personally I'd rather a strong public system rather than a private system where medical practitioners have a monopoly...and charge accordingly.

    22nd Jul 2015
    2:48pm
    I opted out of private cover several years ago after I had surgery that cost thousands (over and above the private health refund) in a private hospital and the care standard was appalling. I had very similar surgery months later in a public hospital and the care was outstanding. I couldn't see the point of paying and arm and a leg for inferior care!

    Many will now be unable to afford insurance, and of course all those who lose the aged pension in Jan. 2017 due to this government's bastard act will be worrying about the cost of medical care. Ultimately, I can't see how the nation wins by making health care unaffordable. More sick people and more disabled people and longer recovery times means lower productivity. Nobody wins. It's dumb to make cuts in this area. Quality health care for all should be a national priority.

    And doubtless many retirees thrown off the pension unexpectedly, with incomes in many cases way less than the aged pension and no pension benefits (often needed to cover specialist fees that the Health Care Card does NOT cover) will have good cause to spend a big chunk of money to get back to having the pension benefits so that their heath needs are more likely to be met affordably. This Government is short-sighted and blinkered, and has no economic management skill at all!
    Jen
    22nd Jul 2015
    4:10pm
    I believe health shouldn't be "for profit." Nor aged care. The govt. SHOULD be responsible for health and education and if we're not getting what we're paying for from our taxes, we can vote them out. It used to be this way.
    MICK
    22nd Jul 2015
    4:31pm
    The irony of your situation Rainey is that they bled you to death financially and then you had to go anyway. What could you have done with the huge amounts of money you paid these businesses?
    The public system is a bit like rolling the dice. Having passed 60 I can accept my fate if it all ends sooner rather than later....although I hope to be around for a few more years yet. Such is life!
    tia-maria
    22nd Jul 2015
    3:43pm
    I am asking how can we stand up against these politicians to ......DROP THE LEVY CHARGES AGAINST PENSIONERS.......our payments now are killing me to say the least........
    MICK
    22nd Jul 2015
    4:33pm
    Form a group. Pick the best INDEPENDENT in your area (whose preference does not go to this government) and VOTE FOR HIM. The candidate would not even need to get in, just close as the bastards would see what people were doing and pull their horns in. Yes Tia-maria.....you and others will have to step out of their comfort zones or accept that nothing is going to change.
    tia-maria
    22nd Jul 2015
    5:43pm
    Hi Mick, thanks again for your advice............It does not take me much to step out of my comfort zone when it comes to our lying and un-handed politicians
    migmag
    24th Jul 2015
    1:39pm
    Mick

    You said "VOTE FOR HIM" what about HER?
    MICK
    22nd Jul 2015
    3:53pm
    I seem to recall that Australian Health Funds apply for and get above CPI increases every year. Some have been quite large. So what is the justification for 10% pa increases every year? Does it have to do with health care companies being listed on the stock exchange and the need to pay Boards and CEOs huge sums of money? Or is it dividends for shareholders. IT IS ABOUT TIME THE PUBLIC DEMANDED AN ANSWER.
    Of course Plan B is for Australians to veto these businesses. No better way to get the attention of businesses than not to buy their products.
    marls
    22nd Jul 2015
    4:05pm
    i had surgery about 10yrs ago and had priviate health insurance, never, never again it cost me thousands. at the same time i ended up with an infection was admitted to local public hospital and asked if i had private insur. i said no it cost me nothing. sorry folks but i learnt my lesson
    MICK
    22nd Jul 2015
    4:34pm
    How many times has that story been told here today.
    PatrickRM
    22nd Jul 2015
    4:24pm
    Maybe it's time for public hospital care to be means tested, thereby perhaps forcing some into compulsory private health funds. My nephew was in a public hospital ICU for 180 days. Not a cent did he pay. His wife also was treated for months with cancer in the public system. Again not one cent did she spend. They don't have private cover but can certainly well afford it. My wife and I are on a part aged pension and fork out over $350/month for private funding. It angers me so much seeing people, who could easily afford private health insurance, bleeding the public health system.
    MICK
    22nd Jul 2015
    4:35pm
    Great idea. Most well off Australians already have private health insurance though. What needs to happen is those who are really well off need to pay more. Try getting the rich to accept that one though.
    KSS
    22nd Jul 2015
    5:34pm
    And look what happened when the current government proposed a co-payment of $7! Good luck with a proposed means test for public health! :-0
    MICK
    22nd Jul 2015
    9:14pm
    A tough job. Unfortunately our pollies are looking at re-election and staying in power rather than the right thing to do.
    LiveItUp
    22nd Jul 2015
    10:21pm
    I've had 3 lots of surgery in last couple of years in a private hospital with my choice of specialist and it hasn't cost me anything.
    TREBOR
    22nd Jul 2015
    10:31pm
    We desperately need emoticons here, Bonny. My past neighbour trumpeted that he had private health etc - then complained bitterly when he had to go to hospital and it still cost him a couple of grand.

    As a public patient - I pay nothing.
    TREBOR
    22nd Jul 2015
    10:31pm
    Where do you live, 'Bonny'? Cuba?

    22nd Jul 2015
    4:33pm
    One thing to look at is what percentage you will get back on your bills.
    Some give more back but of course your premiums would be higher.

    If everyone bails out of private health it will cause longer waiting lists in the public system. As it is it is harder and harder for the public system to cope.

    I will keep on paying private but it is a lot of money and we have not used it apart from one short stay overnight 10 years ago. As sure as I stop it I will need it.
    MICK
    22nd Jul 2015
    4:38pm
    What is the difference if people bail out of private cover or we all pay something for public cover. I mean that is how government is supposed to work. It is how insurance companies work. The public health care system can work the same way and the Medicare Levy needs to be tweaked and be income dependent to achieve this. No loopholes!
    TREBOR
    22nd Jul 2015
    11:54pm
    How would it cause longer waiting lists if the private insurance sector was abolished?
    What would happen is that specialists would not be able to charge as much and would be open to competition, and genuine need = TRIAGE would come into play.

    HE-LLO!
    Rosscoe
    22nd Jul 2015
    4:36pm
    It's really good to see that most of the contributions to this topic are "on the same page'. Governments from both sides have been pathetically weak in not refusing applications from health funds for exorbitant price increases. Coupled with that, the voraciously greedy medical specialists in Australia have made life difficult for many Australians. These people are a blight on our society. There is no reason at all why they can get away with it. A decent federal government would make this its top priority.
    Dot
    22nd Jul 2015
    4:51pm
    Well over 55 years with HBF and what have I personally benefited, practically nothing. Yet those who have arrived here in the past decade or so use the public system that again we contribute to through taxes. I have to finally accept that I have been screwed by the Australian Government over the past 65 years.
    KSS
    22nd Jul 2015
    5:30pm
    Do we assume from your comment Dot that you have rarely, if ever, visited a GP in those 55 years? Those visits are the same as people get who arrived here in the last 10 years and they are NOT covered by private health insurance. If you mean you have paid for private health cover for 55 years and have not made a claim, you should be congratulated on your good health rather than whining that you haven't had your money's worth. That is what insurance is. Plan for the worst and hope you never need it just like car insurance, home insurance, contents insurance and all the rest. Nothing to do with the Government as such - of either side.
    fatman
    22nd Jul 2015
    5:49pm
    started paying private insurance in 1985 when i got married....first child born 1986 in public hospital, nothing to pay...second child was C section, wife had to see specialist several times before the op...specialist done C section op in public hospital, but because i said i had private insurance the specialist charged me...after all the bills were paid, i was $600 out of pocket (the gap)...gave up paying insurance two years later...the only medical bills i had in the next sixteen years was $1200 for dental work on my youngest when he was fourteen...medical insurance , like house insurance is a rip off, (would`nt pay for damaged retaining wall, because i did`nt nominate that i had one)
    Mar
    22nd Jul 2015
    6:07pm
    Had private health cover for over 50 years. Had to get out of it when going on single pension. Have found you still get the best of support when it's emergency. You do have to wait for elective surgery. Friend of mine recently hospitalised and in top private was shocked at the lack of so much in the private hospital. I have found the nursing in the public system was excellent and that was after major surgery. After being in it for over 50 years, I was not even offered a discount or cheaper alternative to stay in. I am disgusted with the private system.There should be alternatives for the aged, but they don't want to know you. They were happy to cancel my insurance, which I think was because of my age and I would now present more of a liability. In the past 2 years have had three emergency visits to hospital and major orthopaedic surgery. I had no problem with the public system.
    MICK
    22nd Jul 2015
    9:15pm
    The public system gets a lot of bad press. Makes you wonder why.
    TREBOR
    23rd Jul 2015
    12:00am
    I've had heart surgery twice and any number of other things....none cost me a cent and the care was outstanding...

    Why would I pay private insurance so I could get the same treatment and then pay the anaesthetist and a surgery fee as well?

    Why would I pay a 'medicare levy' when I could get the same treatment for free?

    I try mightily to find the right in all things - it seems to me that paying twice in any way - either through being mislead into private or paying a levy when you earn too much - is just wrong.

    We already have 'lotteries will pay for hospitals' etc - what went wrong when lotteries are billionaire dollar business?

    Somedink iss wronk in der Schtate off Denmark........
    Anonymous
    27th Jul 2015
    3:52pm
    Yes, nothing wrong with the service in the Public System BUT it is a bit of Russian roulette. If there are lots waiting for the same operation(elective)...you wait...that is how it is. If you have private insurance you get done pretty well straight away.
    Patriot
    22nd Jul 2015
    7:41pm
    We - the Baby Boomers - have been "Asleep @ the Wheel" and have NOT subjected OUR Elected Representatives "to Due Diligence Principles".
    As a consequence they - on instruction of the Pharmaceutical Industry - have converted our "Health Care System" into a ""Sickness Care System".
    MUCH more MONEY to be made from ILL people than from HEALTHY ones!
    And might I say - from personal experience - that the Public Sickness Care System is working admirably well whilst the Private System is extremely expensive and always looking at "Steeling your Last Dollar". BOTH, VERY PREDICTABLY, are “BLEEDING US DRY”.

    As an analogy: “Give your young son a Toy Gun and observe how long it takes before he points this implement at his play mate or younger brother” No matter how often you've told him that this is NOT NICE. Same with a “GREEDY POLITICIAN”. They know that they should “Look after ALL Australians but there is “A Lot more money to be made” looking after CORPORATIOS.
    STUFF THE PEOPLE !!!

    Universities have educated OUR Doctors to become “Pill Pushers” rather than train them to a level where they provide advise to people to stay healthy rather than just “Hide the Symptoms of their Illnesses.
    In ancient China a doctor was NOT PAID when the family was ILL and Rewarded with pay when the family was healthy. Wonder how this would work in our communities. I think we would identify a lot of “Starving Doctors” for a while until they retrained themselves!
    I can find the INFO and SO, I'M SURE THEY CAN IF THEY WANT TO!!!!!
    We have been forced to have CORRECTIVE MAINTENANCE rather than implement PEREVENTIVE MAINTENANCE!!! Once again, MORE MONEY to be made!

    Politicians have FAILED to educate/warn us and have allowed/promoted foods to be completely denurtured and made into EMPTY Starch & Sugar items laced with some “Cardboard & Highly Toxic Additives & Preservatives”! This in order to ensure maximum “ShelfLife” (bug are much smarter than we are and they won't eat such UTTER CRAP”.
    Junk Food can be bought ANYWHERE and you just would not even consider to Make a Sandwich for lunch and “Bring it Along”. That's not how we are programmed any more!

    Via a “Defunct Education System” our kids have become addicts to video games and Text Messaging. They certainly are VERY GOOD at computer games but many have problems with adding 2 + 2 without a calculator or 12 + 13 without a bit of paper!

    MANY are now on drugs because of ADHD problems. Or should this be that they are “CONTROLLED & DUMBED DOWN” due to the fact that they are BORED SH***ESS and cannot cope with being converted into the “Most Common Denominator” which to them is “Zombie Level”. How can “JUNK CRAP FOOD” “Feed & Grow” active brains and healthy human beings?

    We have become disconnected with “How food is grown and/or to “Have a veggie Patch” in the backyard and “feed Ourselves”. We just do not – generally – eat/grow/buy wholesome & Healthy food any more. Special efforts have to be made to get Healthy Food to the Family Table!
    Unfortunately, we are – generally – to Busy & Tired for achieving this!

    We have become DISCONNECTED from our traditional foods like SourDough bread and fermented foods in order to negotiate and DEFUSE the ANTI-NUTRIENTS contained in many of our “Staple. Foods”.
    Traditional diets also re-established & maintained the ESSENTIAL bacterial Colonies that are SUPPOSED TO OCCUPY OUR DIGESTIVE TRACT so that we “Process & Digest our foods effectively” instead of causing all the Debilitating & Degenerative diseases leading us Slowly but Surely to an undignified death accompanied with much suffering!

    I have only ONE SOLUTION that will ultimately resolve the whole issue. BAN CRAP FOOD and return to wholesome Foods & Traditional Diets and eat only Fresh food grown in healthy soils without Toxic Pesticides & Herbicides.

    THEN, there would be BARELY a need for a HEALTH CARE SYSTEM as people would, in a dignified manner, “Dropped Dead or die in their sleep” from “Old Age”.
    The SICKNESS CARE SYSTEM would also severely reduced from what it is now as only “Accidents” & the odd “Terminal Illness” would need to be catered for in due time!..
    It is “Well Trained” (the Sickness Care System) for this and “In excellent shape” to perform admirably well!!!

    And finally, we would not have politicians Whining that the SICKNESS CARE SYSTEM is to costly and cannot be maintained without increasing taxes.
    DiPW
    22nd Jul 2015
    8:22pm
    Simply can't afford health insurance anymore. Also, my mother, who is on the age pension, can't afford insurance. Consequently, she is on an 18 month waiting list to have bolts put in her spine to repair fractured vertebrae. The situation is appalling and will only get worse after the TPP IS INTRODUCED.
    LiveItUp
    22nd Jul 2015
    9:12pm
    A while ago I had to have surgery even though specialist said it was better done sooner rather than later is classified as elective under the public system. So he booked me in the next week in a private hospital. It cost me nothing with my private cover. A friend had the same problem and had already been waiting over six months and was in quite a bit of pain. He was very upset when he was told how quickly I had had the surgery. Months later he had his surgery only to be admitted to the public hospital twice more to fix up the problems with his operation.

    What had happened was that my surgery was done by the specialist himself whereas my friend's surgery was done by a trainee surgeon under the supervisor of the specialist. I believes this happens quite regularly in the public system and you are not even told it is happening.

    I'd rather pay for private hospital insurance than have to wait eons and then have it botched up by a trainee doctor.
    MICK
    22nd Jul 2015
    9:23pm
    Sounding like an advertisement Bonny.
    Elective surgery is an issue but anything urgent is normally done immediately for free.
    I once worked with a guy who needed to have a thumb operated on. Privately insured. He got the work done in a private hospital by his own specialist. In the end this guy was spitting chips as the 'extras' he paid for (which would have been free in the public system) meant his private insurance was totally inadequate.
    You should not cherry pick Bonny.
    LiveItUp
    22nd Jul 2015
    10:13pm
    Well what can I say you just get what you pay for.
    TREBOR
    22nd Jul 2015
    10:38pm
    No - you don't., 'Bonny'. You get whatever someone with a death grip on the market will give you.

    Once again you falsehood is apparent.

    I've had totally free of charge hospital care and the attention of the best surgeons - and it cost me not one cent.

    You are either a total dupe who pays for nothing - or an outright liar.
    TREBOR
    22nd Jul 2015
    10:40pm
    We already pay for the health system - only a fool would pay twice.

    I even come here and say that the Medicare levy is unfair on those who PAY for private (not politicians etc), for the simple reason that they are paying twice for the essentially same system - and from what I've seen today - YOUR system doesn't provide the same care and value for money as them public one does.
    LiveItUp
    22nd Jul 2015
    10:18pm
    Did you know that if you set up a MyGov account and link it to Medicare you can get a listing of what medicare, your hospital fund and you yourself paid?
    TREBOR
    22nd Jul 2015
    10:41pm
    I'm in the 100's of thousands as a public patient - I think I'll stick with my scheme.......
    Anonymous
    22nd Jul 2015
    11:34pm
    Bonny, a private health fund will do the same.
    TREBOR
    23rd Jul 2015
    12:02am
    .. bought and paid for........................ (holds out the bait for the foolhardy)....
    Mar
    23rd Jul 2015
    10:02am
    Bonny, I had my major surgery done by a top surgeon in the Public system and did not have to pay a cent. I did have to wait for it, but it was very successful and I had the best of care. I know of two people having similar surgery in the Private system that have had further problems and had to have more surgery as a result. It's really a matter of whether a person can afford to be in Private, which does take the strain off the Public system. For people who can't afford it, I think the Public system is good and Pensioners should not be worried about it.

    23rd Jul 2015
    8:16pm
    how stupid most of these comments are, mick, as always falls back on his labor mates, jen backs him up, what is expected and so do a few others, it's so simple to fix this issue, all get out of their private health cover and you'll wipe them out and you be able to use the public sector for your medical treatment, I can assure you, my personal experience is that the public sector is no different as that of the same service of private patients, yes you may receive a free newspaper every morning and get free t.v. in the public hospital, just
    compare your bill with those of your room mate, I was hospitalized for two months earlier this year and can't praise the staff enough, for looking after me, my mate was looking at more than $5000.== for the same service, he gave me his paper every day because his family forgot to bring his glasses and mine did not improve his sight. when will australia wake up, don't contribute to this money for shareholders, e.g. medibank etc, living on the backs of contributors, while trying to make the hospitals pay for medical expenses such as dying while giving life to one's children, time for the governments to stand up and take responsibility for these gaffes who will make medibank impossible to put your money into,
    I invite mick, jen etc to give their opinions, without producing their labor mates who have approved these actions, where are you mick, probally on his bike, running away of hard questions.
    Not Senile Yet!
    25th Jul 2015
    1:04am
    All Political Parties are only covering their backsides for the term of their elected MP's.....they have no long term vision and refuse to tackle difficult decisions like this.
    The Private Health Providers should be limited to only increase premiums by the same amount as the average wage has increased each and every year!!!!
    Their calculations are based on most not surviving long enough to make major claims and thereby covering the payouts for those that do....just like life insurance!!!
    However, if the Government becomes dependant upon them to stop the Medicare System from blowing up....which it has.....then they can and do.....like now....barter with the government to allow larger increases!!!
    But the Federal Governments for the past 20years have had plenty of time to Increase the Medicare levy to counter the amount of people who simply can no longer afford Private Life Insurance....but have refused to do so!!!
    They currently subsidise the Private sector but refuse to subsidise the Public Sector!!!
    A Far simpler Solution would be to allow those on a Pension to earn more part-time....subject to investing in Private Health Cover.
    For example.....restricting a pensioner to $186 or whatever in a fortnight is absurd in todays income brackets......a professional consulting can earn that in one day!!!!!
    Allowing Pensioners to earn more Part-time.....say $400 a fortnight.....subject to spending $200 on private Health Insurance ...just might be a better way of reducing the Blowout on Medicare!!!!
    Governments today live too much in the past and Currently Offer little or NO incentive for the elderly to Stay pro-active in both work or Health!!!
    They need to get with the times and offer rewards to people who are willing to be self sufficient .....but are being stifled by the Governments penalty system that is out of date and out of touch!!!!
    elephants
    26th Jul 2015
    3:34pm
    we are pensioners & can not keep up with the continuing rises of private health funds.. Looks like we will have to put more drain on public health..Friend of our's grand daughter is his carer he was admitted to have an op.. 1/ the hospital told him when to go off his meds..Specialist came & asked when last does was told him night before could not operate, hospital was going to send him home specialist said it would have killed him if they had operated he was done next day thanks to this specialist..2? His grand daughter had to stay at the hospital 3 days to change his bowel bag as there was NO ONE there to do it. What is the public system coming to A DISGRACE