APHA invited the two major parties to share their vision of private hospitals with the sector, below is the response from the Coalition
The Coalition recognises that private health is a fundamental part of Australia's health system, offering consumers greater choice and access while taking pressure off Medicare and public hospitals to ensure their universality remains sustainable.
Private hospitals are integral to Australia's private health system. Nearly 60 per cent of all patients admitted to hospital in Australia are admitted to private hospitals, and nearly 70 per cent of all elective surgery in Australia is performed in private hospitals.
The Turnbull Coalition is committed to supporting and improving Australia's private health system, including through the investment of more than $6 billion a year in the private health insurance rebate.
The Coalition was the party that introduced the private health insurance rebate and only the Coalition can be trusted to protect it. Labor's cuts to the private health insurance rebate now total $7 billion, with $4 billion of cuts while it was in Government, and a further $3 billion of cuts announced during the election campaign.
The Coalition is committed to the rebate and has been taking landmark action to reform private health for the benefit of consumers. This included the biggest ever public consultation on private health insurance which saw more than 40,000 people respond to an online survey.
A re-elected Coalition Government will introduce a sensible and balanced package of reforms to private health that will improve the value for money Australians receive from their private health insurance. The reforms will include:
- simplifying private health insurance by developing easily-understood categories of health policies - e.g. labelled gold, silver, bronze - so that consumers know what they are, and are not, covered for;
- weeding out junk policies, ensuring consumers have access to a product with a minimum level of cover;
- developing standard definitions for medical procedures across all insurers to ensure consumers can compare policies;
- simplifying billing, giving consumers a single bill covering all costs of a medical procedure to avoid unplanned bill shock;
- ensuring private health insurers use plain English and disclose policy information in a consumer-friendly way;
- ensuring fine print and commissions with comparator third parties are more transparent;
- maintaining community rating;
- addressing regulatory issues that are adding to the cost of premiums and discouraging innovation;
- working with industry to develop products to meet the specific needs of Australians living in rural and remote Australia; and
- ensuring the current gateway www.privatehealth.gov.au reflects these improvements.
These reforms stem from public consultation which showed that more than two-thirds of respondents did not think they were getting value for money from their private health insurance, and that more than half of respondents were concerned about their inability to understand and compare policies.
Improving private health insurance to better meet consumers' needs will help to maintain Australia's high participation in private health, with more than half the population having private health cover. This will benefit the private hospital sector and help to ensure that it can continue to provide high quality care to millions of Australians.
Private hospitals have made a valuable contribution to the consultation and development of the Coalition's private health reforms to date. Private hospitals will continue to have a key role in the implementation of the reforms through the private health sector committee.
The Coalition is committed to ensuring that consumers have a choice when it comes to their healthcare, and that they can access high quality private healthcare at the right time, right place and right price.
These reforms provide an opportunity for the private hospital sector to build on the existing strength of Australia's private health system to help improve it for the benefit Australians.