Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt has released the rules governing the changes to private health insurance that come into effect on Monday 1 April 2019.
The release of the rules mean private health insurers can now start implementing the new product tiers, Basic, Bronze, Silver and Gold. New policies will be categorised under this system from April 2019 and all products must comply with it by April 2020.
Announcing the rules, the Minister said the reforms will be cost neutral or have a -0.3 percent impact on premium increases.
“Private health insurance is a fundamental part of our health system. Half the population has private health cover and the Australian Government is committed to ensuring that no matter what level of cover a person needs or wants, they can easily find the product that best suits their situation,” he said.
The rules build on reforms already announced, including premium discounts for those aged 18-29; immediate upgrades for in-hospital mental health cover; and travel and accommodation benefits as part of hospital cover.
The new product tiers have minimum and standard clinical categories, which mean consumers can easily identify the services covered, or excluded, by their policies.
In addition to Silver, Bronze and Basic minimum requirements insurers will be able to offer ‘plus’ products so Australians can increase elements of their cover.
Insurers must also improve the information they provide to customers, including a new Private Health Information Statement which outlines mandatory information about what each policy covers.
Australian Private Hospitals Association (APHA) CEO Mr Michael Roff said the association has long campaigned for private health insurance products that are easy for consumers to compare and provide standard medical terms.
“This package should result in simpler private health insurance products that are easier to compare, are more affordable and give Australians a better understanding about what services their insurance covers,” he said.
“This reform package provides a framework for change. It is now up to the health insurance companies to deliver simpler, more transparent products and of course, lower premiums.”