18th Jan 2018

Older Australians will be worst hit by health cover hike

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Older Australians will be worst hit by health cover hike
Olga Galacho

This week, Health Minister Greg Hunt hinted he would backflip on his assurance to halt health insurance premium hikes and give the green light for an increase of around 3.9 per cent in April. This presents older Australians, in particular, with yet another slug undermining the affordability of private medical care.

A YourLifeChoices enquiry to the Minister’s office for clarification was not answered at the time of publishing.

Mr Hunt was reported as telling news.com.au that even though the hike would be twice the rate of inflation, the increase would be the lowest in 15 years. His office said more details would be revealed next month.

Department of Health statistics show that, between 2010 and 2017, the yearly average price hike across all major health insurance companies was 5.6 per cent.



Some estimates say the proposed April increase will add $200 a year to premiums for families.

According to a YourLifeChoices survey of 5500 older Australians, more than 70 per cent of retirees pay for private health insurance. Furthermore, the YourLifeChoices December 2017 Retirement Affordability Index™ found that 62 per cent believed they would likely struggle to keep up the cover throughout their retirement as it became less affordable each year.

Only 47 per cent of all Australians are covered by private health insurance and the numbers are declining as premiums soar. Older Australians appear more likely to keep up their cover, but are disproportionately punished each time insurance increases because of their sheer numbers.

 

Opinion: Government letting insurers run rings around retirees

The bulk of retirees and pensioners have weathered rises of thousands of dollars for private health insurance in the past seven years. This week’s boast by Health Minister Greg Hunt that next April’s rise would be less than last year’s was as empty as most of our wallets, because the hike will still be twice as much as the increase in the cost of living.

To say it is a huge disappointment that the Federal Government hasn’t followed through with promises to shake-up the health insurance sector is an understatement. What happened to the Government’s supposed determination to make insurance more affordable, transparent, and at the very least, accountable for its price increases?

Certainly, the corporate watchdog is wasting no time holding other insurers to account for shonky car insurance, as the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) revealed yesterday. ASIC has ordered that Allianz and Suncorp refund nearly $63 million to those duped into buying useless vehicle insurance through car dealerships.

Shonky, or junk insurance, is also a huge rort in the private health insurance sector, as consumer advocates CHOICE revealed in July. The Government is playing favourites by letting that sector off the hook while (rightfully) clamping down on other insurers.

And as we have previously reported, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is a toothless tiger when it comes to mediating between policyholders and insurance companies. It knows that complaints to the Private Health Insurance Ombudsman (PHIO) are climbing exponentially. Yet the commission appears content with the ombudsman’s office reticence to steer the sector towards the right path. The PHIO admitted last year it “is focused more on negotiating outcomes … rather than assigning fault and applying a penalty or fine to one party”.

So, who is looking out for the little guy – especially older Australians – on the vexing issue of exorbitantly priced health cover?

To add salt to the wound, late last year, the Government also gave its blessing to health insurers that wanted to drop substantial cover for procedures such as hip and knee replacements and natural therapies, all of which bring great relief to older Australians in pain. What is the point of being privately insured when it presents as such a low value proposition?

Will this year’s increase in premiums force you to give up health insurance? Do you see any value in being privately insured? Should the Government allow ASIC to scrutinise the value of health insurance in the way it does with other types of cover?

Related articles:
Is your policy junk?
Can you get cheap insurance?
Cover becoming eroded





COMMENTS

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mountainman
18th Jan 2018
10:33am
its nothing but a scam I'm out
jackie
18th Jan 2018
1:04pm
I left the private health system years ago.

I doctor myself by taking care of my own health through diet and lifestyle choices.

All private cover patients end up in public hospitals during emergencies.
Patriot
18th Jan 2018
1:13pm
Have not been "in" for a long time.
OnlyGenuineRainey
18th Jan 2018
6:58pm
Likewise. I simply can't justify the cost given the pathetic benefits they pay and the huge gap charges. I mostly wanted dental and optical cover because that's where I incur major costs, but the annual limits were so low that it was a joke.
Auction Girl
18th Jan 2018
10:50am
We also have just dropped out.
Dobbo1
18th Jan 2018
11:19am
My wife is disabled and consequently private health cover is essential for us. We have claimed, and been paid out, over $50,000 in the past 3 years, so we certainly obtain benefit from having PHI. No doubt this is why premiums keep going up, as we have paid maybe $6000 in premiums over that time. They have to get even somehow!
tropic
18th Jan 2018
11:59am
Could not agree more with that Dobbo1. That's what insurance is all about. I would not dream of not having car insurance, even though I have a choice there and also have a choice not to have a car. Health unfortunately is not always a choice. The problem with private insurance is though the bad value for the general population. Young people are not taking private health insurance. Not even talking about profits, ceo salaries, items being a lot more expensive in private than in public. And i'm sure there are a lot more rip off's. Therefore I have never had private insurance and as it is now I will never have it. From this article it seems as if the older people keep the system going. I'm all for improving the public system and for that I'm happy with an increase in the medicare levy. Private Health takes us closer to the American Trump version of health.
floss
18th Jan 2018
11:21am
Can we afford this Federal Government and all their failed promises.We refuse to pay any more for health insurance not one cent. The whole Liberal party is a sick joke.
roy
18th Jan 2018
11:50am
Yeah, get Shifty Shorten in and we will be living in Utopia floss(not).
Old Man
18th Jan 2018
12:07pm
Be fair floss, health funds get an increase each year regardless of which government is in power. It sometimes helps to open the other eye.
jackie
18th Jan 2018
1:06pm
floss....The ALP don't pay Pensioners to vote them in.
Knows-a-lot
18th Jan 2018
3:40pm
roy, you are blind. Shithead Turdball and his nauseating Rightard cronies are infinitely worse than the ALP.
roy
18th Jan 2018
5:21pm
Knows- a- lot, no way baby, The ALP way is to borrow borrow borrow, spend spend spend. it"s always been the labour way the world over.
Then the LNP have to get in power and take lot's of unpopular decisions to get the Country out of trouble, then Labor gets voted in by the thickos and the cycle starts again.
Then we get the likes of union bullies like Shifty Shorten and trash like Shanghai Sam Dastyari, sheesh, when will the thickos ever learn.
Plus the union people who spend on the union credit card for hookers and sharp suits etc. Labor are Filth with a capital F.
If you look back through history, the unions even got the dockers to strike for more money during the 2nd world war whilst the boys were fighting overseas. This happened here and in the UK, check it out and people vote Labor, my God.
roy
18th Jan 2018
5:46pm
These were ammunition ships by the way, luckily the Germans Italians and Japanese didn't mind waiting until the strikes were over before attacking our "boys" again!
And people vote Labor, unbelievable. Just before every election the LNP should recount some of these true stories about Labor.
OnlyGenuineRainey
18th Jan 2018
7:03pm
You need a history lesson, Roy. The Howard Government was the biggest waster in the history of Australia. Howard and Costello were just lucky that the boom allowed them to get away with their shocking extravagance. The Rudd/Gillard government inherited huge unaffordable obligations from the Howard Government, but nonetheless managed to steer Australia through the GFC in better shape than any other developed nation.

I dislike Labor intensely and I can point to a lot of stupid decisions by Labor Governments, but this LNP is downright vile and disgusting - engaging in a social engineering exercise that will push us back to the dark ages.
roy
18th Jan 2018
7:08pm
No comment on the union filth that went on strike during WW2.
OnlyGenuineRainey
18th Jan 2018
7:52pm
That was a long time ago and a lot has changed since then. I'm more concerned with the here and now - and the Turnbull Govt is destroying Australia's future with its persecution of the poorest and feeding the rich. Yes, and wicked waste!
Knows-a-lot
20th Jan 2018
10:30am
Roy, the biggest debts have occurred under Lieberal-Hillbilly COALition (LNP) governments. Those idiots think only in terms of accountancy and economics, whereas at least the ALP recognizes we are a society. Australian society is always worse off under the LNP. That makes YOU one of the "thickos". (PS: the fact that I'm a university medallist with a PhD and exceedingly high IQ shows that I'm the antithesis of a "thicko".) The LNP are Vermin with a capital V. And quit your idiotic union-bashing. Were it not for unions, wages would be even lower than they are now.

Yes, I know about what you describe in WW2. That was terrible, but "one swallow does not make a summer".

Right on, Rainey. (Although I don't concur with your dislike of the ALP.)
Old Man
18th Jan 2018
11:26am
I'll make a prediction. The health funds are spruiking that the average rises are 4% or less and even though the CPI is running at just over 2% we are being told that this is the lowest rise in decades. Now to the prediction; rises of up to 15%± will appear and any attempt to question the figures will be met with a standard reply quoting the "average".

We need transparency with health funds and the Minister's office must be taken to task for not doing their job. Health Ministers of all sides have sat back and looked for the political answer to the annual exorbitant rises without looking at the full detail of all the rises. A cynic would suggest that people who work for the health insurers get a reduction each year in their premiums to ensure that the increase can be averaged out to a figure acceptable to government. This rort is beyond party politics as all sides are duped each year.
sunnyOz
18th Jan 2018
10:05pm
Could not agree with you more....Sick of hearing the word 'average'...My fund said 'average' of 4.9% last year - my health insurance increased 9.7%. By my old school maths, that means some premiums must have decreased...that will be the day. Am so sick and tired of ever increasing premiums and decreasing coverage. I don't want to have to give up my health insurance, but I may soon be forced to.
I absolutely agree that health funds increase premiums more for the older members, despite their denials. And they force more and more procedures into higher levels, so you have to up your level and pay more.
Garry
18th Jan 2018
11:26am
It is definitely getting harder each year that premiums rise. As for comparing rate increases to the past, that means nothing and is a complete cop out by Mr Hunt.
We are getting very dissatisfied with this Government and their policies.
Also, although we have private health insurance, it appears that if a hospital stay is required, the possibility of actually getting into a private hospital is low due to the lack of beds.
Kathleen
18th Jan 2018
11:40am
We will not be dropping our private health cover as it is not a luxury when you have multiple health issues. It costs each of us $30 a week and as we do not drink alcohol or smoke or eat out it is not expensive. A coffee out each day costs more than that or one restaurant main dish. In the scheme of things it is not our biggest bill and our provider puts it up less than others each year. Priorities!
Kathleen
18th Jan 2018
11:44am
Free day surgery with no excess, teeth covered, glasses covered, BP home monitor covered, and much more, it is good value!
spud
18th Jan 2018
11:46am
I have had health insurance since I was 16 years old and for many years had little or no claims until my family came along - then only minimal claims. Now at 74 (and luckily still in reasonable health) I have need of the security of having health insurance. What happened to all the years I paid but had little or no claims? I have, many times, considered no longer having health insurance because of the price hikes but I'm not game as I may have a greater need of the insurance. I guess I will still consider paying even when the premiums increase. I'l;l just have to go without something else.
Additionally, my daughter in on a disability pension and in need of numerous medications and medical appointment. Obviously, this will affect her greatly. Again just have to go without something else.
Shame the pensions don't increase the way other necessary expenses do.
tropic
18th Jan 2018
11:47am
Doesn't worry me. Never had private health insurance. I'm very happy with the public system. Private health insurance is extremely bad value for money. I think it's more anxiety that keeps older people continue with this.
Jimbo
18th Jan 2018
11:53am
I am and ex Union person.
This government has been trying for years to control Workplace associations i.e. UNIONS
but they never Attack the AMA I am all for Doctors and Specialist being paid well for their services but some of them charge fees extremely higher than the recommended fees.
Some of this excessive charging must be part of the reason for Health funds HAVING to raise rates every year.
It is time the govt paid the same attention to the AMA as any other group of workers.
KSS
18th Jan 2018
12:44pm
Jimbo, the AMA does not set specialist or GP fees. All GPs and most specialists are in effect independent small businesses and as such can charge patients whatever they want. Some choose to charge only the rebatable Medicare fee (bulk billing), others a great deal more. As Medicare only rebates a certain amount, the patient picks up the rest. There is no union setting pay rates and unlike nurses most doctors and specialist are even employed by the Health Authority!

This or any other Government does not have the authority to 'attack the AMA'. And you might be interested to know that membership of the AMA is not compulsory so the AMA do not represent the majority of Doctors or Specialist anyway.
maxchugg
18th Jan 2018
11:59am
Logic dictates that eventually almost everyone will opt out. Every time the premiums increase more than the CPI insurance becomes unaffordable for more people.
It seems that in the 21st century luxuries are going to be electricity, water and health insurance.
PlanB
18th Jan 2018
12:11pm
I can not afford Private health cover and I know people that have it and it costs a fortune AND goes up every year -- AND they still have to pay gaps, money making racket
Chrissy L
18th Jan 2018
12:18pm
I am sure this Government thinks we all have a money tree at the bottom of our gardens! So far this government have reduced part pensions, reduced what items we can claim for on private health insurance and now want to jack up the premium increases to more than the inflation rate. Do they really want older Australians to opt out of private health insurance and join the queues at the local hospital emergency departments? We should be rewarded for maintaining private health insurance not penalized year after year.
KSS
18th Jan 2018
12:52pm
Chrissy be fair now and direct your frustration to where it belongs. Contrary to the belief of many, the Government is NOT responsible for all life's ills.

The inclusion, removal and downgrading of items covered in health insurance is entirely a matter for the insurance companies, NOT the Government.

Yes the Government of the day is complicit in premium increases by agreeing to the demands of the insurance companies and for that they do 'deserve' your anger. But do not absolve the insurance companies by misplacing your anger in the haste to demonise the Government.
roy
18th Jan 2018
1:56pm
Get Shifty Shorten as PM and everything in the garden will be rosy,not. Wake up Chrissy L.
Rodent
18th Jan 2018
12:19pm
Our Increases for the last 4 years have been this
2014/15 Fin year was an +8.70% increase on previous year
2015/16 increase was + 8.47%
2016/17 Increase was +8.20%
2017/18 increase was +7.06%
Since 2010/11 fin year to June 2018 Increase is 47.88%
Getting out of control!
Old Man
18th Jan 2018
4:20pm
As I pointed out in my earlier post Rodent, the people advising the Minister (you can go back through any colour of government-this is not confined to one side or the other) are not doing their job. The health insurers trumpet how the premiums are only rising 4% but this is an average and the actual rise for most is at least double that. Health insurers must be made to provide all of the figures and how they have arrived at the final result. It's not getting out of control, Rodent, it is out of control.
Gee Whiz
18th Jan 2018
12:20pm
Greg Hunt is a fool like the rest of the Turnbull crew.

Health Fund premium rises are always just rubber stamped by government morons who have no idea how the real world operates.

Their premium lifestyles and large pay-packets are not effected by price hikes in health fund premiums.

Besides the news is out that are all going to get pay increases in the few days or weeks.

How could they possibly understand how the average working family and pensioners will suffer from this increase.

Will now have to consider dropping our health insurance.
Old Man
18th Jan 2018
4:22pm
Be fair Gee Whiz, health funds get an increase each year regardless of which government is in power. It sometimes helps to open the other eye.
PlanB
18th Jan 2018
12:29pm
Yes, the government scum is getting a rise of I heard $28.000 how the &^%$ would they have any idea how the real people live!?

And they STILL use OUR taxes to charter planes etc and have $23.000 lunches!
libsareliars
19th Jan 2018
12:31pm
You nailed it - they are scum and parasites.
Dot
18th Jan 2018
12:52pm
I have to admit that the private health insurance is the biggest waste of money. Been with the same health insurance for over 55 years. Had a melanoma removed but because it was removed by a dermatologist in private practice was not covered by my health fund. Husband sees a Specialist yearly for Prostate, once again not covered by our health fund. Now the specialist would like to see him every six months while at the same time been charged for extra tests that have been added to the account. The same health fund always sponsors various fun runs and other things. Previously all medical items were covered now they keep changing so it costs us more and more for less and less.
There should be a discount for those who have been with one health fund for many years and all retires.
KSS
18th Jan 2018
1:05pm
Whilst I have sympathy for your plight your story is a typical misunderstanding of what private health cover is.

It does not (and it is in fact against the law) for insurance companies to cover doctors' appointments (including specialists). With the exception of a few trial sites in QLD over the last year or so, none of this is covered by any insurer UNLESS you are actually in hospital and not as an outpatient. And even then there is an excess to pay.

When we take out private health insurance we get HOSPITAL cover and optional EXTRAS cover. The extras may include limited ancillary health professional services such as dental, physio, optical and currently a range of so called alternative therapies such as Pilates, yoga, naturopathy and the like. Hospital cover is just that, services provided when you are in hospital. And yes there are often out of pocket expenses even then. But to complain about doctor's appointments outside hospital or as an outpatient within a hospital not being covered when they never were, is churlish to say the least. A lucky few patients land at doctors and specialists who still bulk bill (or who only charge the equivalent medicare rebate) and so there are no fees to pay. But that is not as a result of having private health insurance. Rather it is a benefit of Medicare.
john
18th Jan 2018
1:27pm
To KSS the point being , it should all be covered by health insurance paid by people who pay over and above the medicare . The problem is you get robbed almost, by private health insurance companies who don't insure you get your money back , this word gap and other things with conditions etc, insurance is to insure , well they don't do they? My opinion of excess' in insurance is much the same thing, a motor car insured, with a $500 dollar excess costs $510 dollars to repair, the insurance covers for 10 bucks. That is not insuring anyone, it is profiteering and I believe that is what health insurance does too.

With the excess you could say it is worth it, when your damages are 5 or 6 thousand dollars, and we all know plastic cars now days are simply not worth what is charged to fix them , another racket there too,, and rarely does the scenario I described above happen, well... it happened to my daughter last week.
Back to health insurance and insurance full stop, it needs a Royal Commission of its own.
If you buy a beer for seven to eleven dollars and it is only half to two thirds full, what would you do?
Well that's insurance, public or private and it is a terrible drain on people , especially the blackmail mind set, set upon people with health insurance, with concerns for your own personal well being and your family.
And it costs too much ??????????????
Kathleen
18th Jan 2018
5:45pm
You need to choose a specialist who does not overcharge. Mine has never charged me, he bulk bills. You tell your GP you do not want to be referred to an overcharging specialist. You can also find your own name and take that to your GP.
Hospitals need to be on your providers list of hospitals.
You ask your private health cover provider before you go to hospital what is covered and where to go.
You always need to contact the private health care provider before anything is done. Even ask if they cover items like BP monitors and most do.
There should be no surprises as you know upfront.
OnlyGenuineRainey
18th Jan 2018
7:09pm
Kathleen, my partner has a rare eye condition. We have thus far only found one doctor able to treat it effectively, and believe me we've searched! We have to travel 2 hours each way to appointments that cost $280 per visit PLUS extra fees for tests, with a Medicare rebate of $70.00 and $0 medical insurance rebate (if we were still insured) because the cost is way in excess of annual limits. Insurance would be a sick joke for us. It's not always possible to find a specialist who doesn't overcharge!

Shortly, my partner will need surgery and the specialist will not treat a public patient, so there will be astronomical costs for that as well. But because it's optical, no insurer would cover it.

Same goes for my dental treatment - although I get it done at a university clinic which is 40% cheaper than commercial dentists. But implants will cost tens of thousands and no insurer will pay.

I was insured for 20 years and paid tens of thousands in premiums, only to find that the conditions I need treated have such absurdly low limits that insurance is worthless.
Kathleen
20th Jan 2018
11:17am
Rainey, Medicare is responsible for doctors and specialist visits.
Medicare has also removed some cover from eyes as my sister found out recently.
Implants are expensive and I would not have those anyway. A friend of mine does and gets some assistance from her provider.
My situation is different from yours and we get good help from a reasonable insurer. My specialist bulk bills as well.
There is no need for specialists to charge hundreds of dollars for a visit. They can easily afford to bulk bill elderly and poorer patients.
My specialist performed 18 colonoscopies in one afternoon and never charged anyone and of course he made enough. He is a good person and happy with that. He is very down to earth whereas some are full of their own importance and think they deserve to be paid richly.
I am pretty sure my specialist is sufficiently well off without the greed.
If Medicare removes an item like eyes from their claims list which they have done then no private fund can cover it.
People may need to look at this government and how they are trying to dismantle Medicare by stealth.
john
18th Jan 2018
1:13pm
I may simply get out and take the chance, I have full cover for my wife and I, and it is getting out of hand now, the last rise put us up over $4400 dollars a year with Medibank. Nearly 169 a fortnight, what on earth does this minister think people are, we are not made out of money, I can tell you 166 dollars or more a fortnight is a massive killer for your income!
Kathleen
18th Jan 2018
5:48pm
Get out and change to a reasonably priced one. Mine is hciltd.com.au and is reasonable and covers all our needs. We pay $30 each a week doe top hospital and top extras.
KSS
18th Jan 2018
1:31pm
Whilst I am sympathetic to the plight of those nearing the point of dropping private health insurance (I am one of them), older Australians are not 'disproportionately punished' as the writer of the article alleges.

All insurance, no matter what for (house, contents, vehicle, health) is based on the insurance company mitigating the risk of having to meet a claim. Some policy-holders are riskier than others: consider a young person's car insurance for example. Because they are more frequently involved in traffic accidents they pay a higher premium than older drivers who are less likely to have to make a claim. So it is with health insurance. It is unfortunate that with age, the risk of developing major health conditions increases (though fortunately not inevitable) thus making older people a bigger risk to insure given that the likelihood of them making a claim in any given year is high. Day after day we have people on this site regaling us with all the health issues they contend with as they have aged, science supports it so we know this to be true. This is how insurance works, the very fact of those carrying the most risk pay the higher premiums. Fair enough for a 17 year old new driver eh? This is a fair way to do it right? Yes!

Until we are the 'risky lot'! Now we are getting the same arguments put forward as those demanding pensions (I've paid my tax I'm entitled') only now its "I've paid my premiums for XX years and never made a claim, Its not fair!" Well sorry, that is what insurance does. Your/my premiums are not collected into a bucket with our name on it waiting for us to break something and make a claim. Our premiums are paying for all those who do need hospital care and do make claims of tens of thousands of dollars to cure their ailment. OK I didn't claim but in the future I might and so might you. If and when that happens we will then benefit from all those paying their premiums and not making claims themselves.

No-one wants to pay higher premiums, many can no longer afford to do so and in the past decade neither salaries nor welfare have kept pace with increased costs - and not just health insurance costs. We all as individuals, have to make choices. As others in this thread have indicated, for some, health insurance is a main priority and they will do what they can to maintain it. Others will drop it and still others never had it to drop.

Just keep in mind, private health insurance is still a choice we make.
MD
19th Jan 2018
10:16am
KSS, thanks for the balanced input, something sorely lacking from the "entitled's" perspective.
Linda
18th Jan 2018
2:08pm
4,000 or 5,000 pa for health insurance and extras, is a lot of money. If one has only small claims for 10 years, then the Insurance folks are way ahead. Those who have held lifetime private insurance have paid and paid and then pay the gaps. I think this is a problem because of the greed and the need for skyrocket profits. A knee or hip replacement saves lives, and enables mobility and self care to be more likely in old age. Contrast that to the costs of caring for someone who can no longer walk or only with great difficulty. Yes, most do end up in the public hospitals for emergencies, however the long long wait times and the suffering while someone waits for some procedures is an important consideration.
When there is a good knee or hip as a possibility if only....one has the insurance to cover it is priceless for the person involved.

I feel certain someone somewhere knows the demand for almost every kind of health service. These folks are called Actuaries and they determine risk for the insurance providers. I wonder if they also look at the costs to society of schemes that make it too expensive to get the timely care we Australians need. When this happens other costs go up, home care, mobility support, therapy, lost contributions to society, nursing home care, and depression to name a few cost factors.
Linda
18th Jan 2018
2:21pm
It does seem like the American system of terrible is trying to make inroads into our system. When government abrogates their main responsibilities to the people it is time to demand and insist that those who are on the public purse actually do their jobs, and work at finding the right balance and good solutions to our needs, like safe food and water, health care, justice, just laws, and fair treatment.

When any decision is taken there should be a sound look at all the costs and implications of the given options or possibilities. As long as some folks believe they should be able to make huge profits off the backs of poor people we have a problem. We see news about all these potential medical breakthroughs, however it takes a long long time for these things to filter into affordable options in health care.
Knows-a-lot
18th Jan 2018
3:39pm
We need a binding Royal Commission into the insurance industry and we need it NOW!
Gee Whiz
18th Jan 2018
4:01pm
Couldn't agree more. But it would probably be like the proposed inquiry into the bank's.

This is guaranteed to be a complete whitewash apart from some small trimmings around the edges.

The banks and the health funds a big contributors to the LNP and the ALP war chests.

Mad Malcolm and Blinky Bill are not going to upset them.
Knows-a-lot
20th Jan 2018
10:32am
Maybe the ALP and the Greens collectively establish a Royal Commission with real teeth.
Bazza13
18th Jan 2018
3:42pm
Not everyone will be able to do this but I pay my health Insurance yearly before the 1st April that way I am always a year behind the rate rises, my insurance company also gives me a 5% discount.
With regard to gaps even though you are insured, shop around if you need an operation my wife needed an operation on her hand and the surgeon & anesthetist did not charge a gap because we had a pension card they accepted what the health fund paid.
Kathleen
18th Jan 2018
5:54pm
Yep, it is in our hands to choose and control. We would never drop our private cover and because we have always been covered we do not pay the levy. It is our duty to check before we go for treatments and specialists.
People may be blaming the insurers and it possibly could be the government eroding their contribution from 40% down to under 35% for those aged over 70.
KB
18th Jan 2018
5:23pm
I will not drop health insurance as in South Australia long waiting lists for hip replacements.Just had an essential bad hip done. Will be waiting awhile to have the second hip replaced as will have to save MONEY My surgeon is very good as there are no fees to see him. As you get older there will be health issues for some so important to have a back up health system for surgery.
Kathleen
18th Jan 2018
5:55pm
Same in most states. And if you have to wait the problem gets worse. For example, shoulder surgery where there is damage being exacerbated by the wait.
Rodent
18th Jan 2018
5:28pm
Old Man

I agree, its out of control!, and I agree with you earlier post, especially about the quoting of averages and how they mislead. When ever anyone writes about % and averages, I always seek to find out the underlying numbers, that's often where the truth is, and as we know ALL pollies don't speak the truth!!!
elephants
18th Jan 2018
6:05pm
Yes have it but boy o boy getting close to leaving it. I have my hip & complecations done public no difference. This was because bupa kept saying i didn't have coverage. . Sorted out i totally did .Why do we have to fight for everything. Its alright for this government to keep increasing everything but where does it stop. We are taking the strain of public hospitals. What are they going to do with more pulling out & draining the public hospitals
floss
18th Jan 2018
6:24pm
Roy I hope you have health insurance as you are in need of it in more ways then one.
roy
18th Jan 2018
7:47pm
floss, you shifty shorten fans really get up my nose, and yes I do have health insurance but with a mutual, so no shareholders to make rich in other words.
Shifty Shorten will lead us to the Garden of Eden yeah.
disillusioned
18th Jan 2018
9:06pm
MORE PHI INCREASES!! On and on ad nauseum under this "Entitled" LNP government, State and Federal! While they luxuriate in their excessive salaries, pensions, lurks and perks, they screw us oldies into an early grave! We are treated with the utmost disdain, and and they want to gouge every dollar they can out of us before we finally kick the bucket! The other mob is almost as bad, but I have definitely swung over in their direction!
Jimbo
18th Jan 2018
9:17pm
disillusioned .....The other mob nearly as bad !!!!
what most people seem to forget that the union leaders try to get the best deal for their members. Whether it is a better choice of ice cream up in the hot north or for better wages and conditions. Now they are in parliament they try to get the best deal again for their members..............now the voting public.
tropic
19th Jan 2018
12:57am
By Terence Mills

If you buy private health insurance cover, you are about to be scammed, watch out!



Greg Hunt, the responsible minister – let me rephrase that – the minister responsible, has announced that he has agreed with the health insurance companies a premium increase for 2018 in the order of 4% which he will tell you is an amazing achievement and the lowest increase in seventeen years. His media advisers have told him not to smirk or giggle when he does interviews over the next few days.

What he is actually trying to spin is that we will still be given a bloody nose but not as much as last year when the average increase was 4.84%. While there will undoubtedly be much rejoicing in the streets of the nation, what Greg won’t be telling you – or he may mumble inaudibly – is that the health insurance rebate granted to you by the commonwealth government and which you may recall as being around 30%, depending on your income, will be reducing and will come in at something like 25% on average.

The private health insurance companies won’t tell you what your government rebate is either and you will notice that they no longer show the value of the rebate on the renewal notice they send to you. Even when you ask them how much your government rebate is they will be reluctant tell you: my health insurer actually had the nerve to ask me why I wanted to know what my rebate was!

Just to be clear, the government rebate has gradually been eroded as private health insurance premiums have been increasing, known in the industry as a double whammy. Take, for example, an individual aged under 65 with an income under $90,000 the rebate has gone from 27.820% in 2015 to 26.791 per cent in 2016 and 25.934% in 2017 and if you were over 70 with income under $90,000 your rebate has gone from 37.094% in 2015 to 34.579% in 2017. The new rebate for 2018 won’t be announced until March, by which time you will have absorbed the 4% premium increase announced this week. So, your increase will, in fact, be greater than 4% as your government rebate will be reduced. What this means is that the annual increases in private health insurance premiums have been more than double the rate of inflation in recent years: Mr Hunt won’t be mentioning that.

At the same time the vast lobbying resources of the private health insurance industry are after another lurk to lock people into their dodgy products. At the moment single people who earn more than $90,000 and families earning more than $180,000 pay an extra 1% -1.5% tax if they do not have private health cover, with the levy tiered according to income. In its pre-budget submission to the federal government, Private Healthcare Australia said that they want the surcharge recalculated to provide a stronger incentive for these high-income earners to take out and maintain private health cover. They say to achieve this outcome the surcharge should be increased to a minimum of 1.5% and reach 2% for the highest income earners: what the coalition used to call a great big new tax when they were in opposition but now consider to be prudent fiscal management.

The private health insurance rebate, in 2016–17, was worth around $6.3 billion to the insurance companies as an industry subsidy and represented 27.4% of total industry premium revenue. So, as the rebate is eroded you can expect the private, for profit insurers to claw back lost revenue from their customers by premium increases.

By the way, when it comes to industry subsidies which is against everything the coalition stands for, the support for the automobile industry at around $415 million a year under the former Labor government was unsustainable according to the coalition. Yet $6.3 billion a year to private insurance companies is OK: Mr Hunt won’t be discussing that either.

All of this at a time when our once internationally lauded universal healthcare system, Medicare is undergoing government imposed stress as the fee paid to GP’s for a consultation has been frozen at $37 for six years and will not be reviewed until 2020. This was a move designed to force doctors to abandon bulk billing and introduce co-payments, originally the goal of everybody’s favourite Health Minister, none other than the egregious Peter Dutton.

When Labor suggested in 2016 that the coalition were privatising Medicare by stealth the coalition cried foul. But what they are actually doing is undermining and underfunding Medicare at every turn and making private health insurance the default system in Australia with Medicare a safety net for the poor: that’s how capitalism works – ask Donald Trump from whom we take our lead!
Kathleen
21st Jan 2018
11:00am
At last someone who has a handle on what is actually happening.
This government is dismantling Medicare by stealth.
Rebates have been reducing for years which makes a difference for over seventies in particular.
My sister recently discovered Medicare no longer covers one eye treatment that she needs.
Many checks now cost a lot that used to be provided by Medicare.
Blaming the private health funds instead of where the blame belongs is not helping to address the real issue.
My health fund said if Medicare covers it we are covered. Therefore, when Medicare removes cover the private funds cannot possibly pay up as Medicare covers the bulk and the private funds only cover the remainder.
People need to learn to research thoroughly to get to the truth.
PlanB
19th Jan 2018
6:59am
I also dropped out years ago after being in it from leaving school -- dropped out when they did not fully cover my dying Husband
MD
19th Jan 2018
11:13am
"I've been paying for (umpteen) years", "I've got such and such an ailment", "It's a scam/ripoff - needs a RC", blah, blah, blah. To look at most posts makes me wonder why most you lot bother persevering if life is such a bloody burden. Such little bundles of joie de vivre, not. FACT - we're all heading for the knackery, no guarantees regards whether we arrive there dancing, prancing or turning cartwheels and collective whinging, moaning, groaning, complaining and blaming everyone/anyone else for respective maladies and ailments seems irrelevant.
A Royal Commission (into anything) would be far likelier to substantiate Industry - plus associated parasite's - claims or may even find heftier increases warranted. Life expectancy is placing unprecedented demands on an already burdened life support Industry
and an aging populace is exacerbating this situation.
Whatever prompts people to air their grievances, ills, woes and worries will do little to address the (perceived) inequities. Private cover has limited options for those aiming for longevity (the longer lived the greater the premium):-
Put up and shut up.
Accept some degree of risk and pay the difference for peace of mind.
Opt out and rely on Public Health.
Or do your darndest and STRIVE to be happy with your lot in life, cos win, lose or draw this is the real stage show, it's not the bloody dress rehearsal when you get to primp, pout, prance and powder your nose whenever you damnwell please.

Failing all else then seriously consider the 'final solution'.
Concerned
28th Feb 2018
5:21pm
Changed health funds end of last year because we were tired of being ripped off every year with Medibank premiums going up double the recommended rate by the government. Went to Defence as they were non profit - low and behold my premiums this year went up 7.4% (nearly double again) and my husband's went up 5.2% this year. The rate was supposed to be 4%. Asked why I was being charged more that 2.2% more than my husband and the answer was because I have a higher level of cover. On top of this we pay a 62% loading for ten years because we could not afford to be in fund when we were younger. $30 a week increase when you are on a pension is outrageous. Our government really looks after its elderly citizens, ha, ha. Have previously complained to the Private Health Ombudsman and all they reply to you is, "can't do anything about it" they can charge what they like.
Concerned
28th Feb 2018
9:32pm
Sorry, typo, $30 per month increase.


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