Public hospitals’ greed pushing up health insurance premiums

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Public hospital’s pushing Australians to use their private health insurance in a public setting could be contributing to the continuing rise in premiums, according to Health Minister Greg Hunt.

Announced by the Minister for Health Greg Hunt, insurance premiums will rise by 4.8 per cent in April, but this figure may have been lower if Medicare was used over private health insurance. Mr Hunt said he wanted to see change in the practice.

“I also want to invite the states to work with us to ensure that they are not adding to the pressures on private health insurance and not adding to the public waiting list by bringing people in deliberately from private into public at the cost of public waiting lists in some of the states and at the cost of private health insurance,” said Mr Hunt.

Australian Private Hospitals Association (APHA) CEO Michael Roff supports the efforts the government is making to ensure that Australians see the value in their private health care.

“We know from publicly available data that in some states – NSW for example – many hospitals have more than a third of their beds used to treat private patients over public. The public hospital then claims the private health insurance from these patients – boosting its coffers.

“For private patients treated in public hospitals, it effectively means they are paying for their healthcare twice. And we know from anecdotal reports that those patients often don’t want to be in the public system in the first place.

“Australians pay for universal health care through their taxes, they should be able to access the public system when they need it, not have those beds taken up by private patients,” said Mr Roff.

Those with private health insurance should be able to receive treatment in a private hospital, choose their own doctor and when they need their surgery.

Mr Hunt committed to ensuring value for private health insurance customers in his media release announcing the premium increase, work supported by APHA. Mr Roff said more can be done to add value than just slashing prostheses prices.

“This public hospital greed cost health insurance funds $1 billion each year, far more than the big insurance companies claim could be saved through further prostheses list reforms.

“I commend the Health Minister Greg Hunt for his commitment to ensuring Australians see value for money in their private health insurance, and his efforts to keep premium increases low,” Mr Roff said.

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