Key recommendations in a Choice report calling for simpler, more transparent private health insurance policies support the position advocated by the Australian Private Hospitals Association (APHA).
The report – Making Private Health Insurance Simpler – released by the consumer group has five key recommendations, from removing junk health insurance policies, through to simpler information provided to consumers.
APHA CEO Mr Michael Roff said the association has long campaigned for more transparent policies and the removal of junk policies for Australian health care consumers.
“There is no value in junk health insurance policies. These are policies that only offer people health care in public hospitals, which is what they get for free through Medicare. With the increasing numbers of private patients being treated in public hospitals anyway, all these policies do it take people’s money and push out waiting times for elective surgery for those without insurance.
“APHA supports the Federal Government’s commitment to reforming private health insurance to improve products for Australians so they see real value for the ever increasing premiums they pay. Simpler policies, transparent medical billing and standardised medical terms used in policies will go a long way to helping Australians understand what they are paying for.
“Along with junk policies we are seeing an increase in exclusions of cover, which are difficult for consumers to assess and could be the difference between accessing care with a short waiting time with a private provider or a long time on a public waiting list.
“This issue is particularly important to private hospital operators who are often the ones who have to inform unwell and vulnerable patients they are not covered for a procedure because they took out a cheap policy that excluded certain services without understanding they might need them,” He said.
The Choice survey showed that 44% of Australians found it difficult to compare health insurance policies, while 28% found it easy.
Of those surveyed, one in five were considering dropping or downgrading their cover, with the vast majority of these (66%) saying it was too expensive.
The Choice report can be found here.