Last year, the Australian Government announced that it was bringing in changes to how private health insurance works to help make it simpler and more affordable. Most of the changes will be rolled out from April 2019, but how will they affect you?
While the government continues to work on the details about how the changes will be delivered, we’ve taken a look at each of the reforms to give you an idea of what to expect.
1. Health cover discounts for young Australians
For the first time, health funds will be able to offer health premium discounts to people under 30. Specifically, on private hospital cover, there will be scope for health funds to offer discounts of up to 2% for each year that a person is aged under 30, to a maximum of 10 per cent for 18 to 25 year olds.
These discounts will be gradually phased out once a policy holder turns 40. This change is designed to address falling memberships, to help keep overall premiums lower and to help absorb the higher claim costs of older Australians.
2. More affordable implanted medical devices
The Health Minister has announced a total of $300 million in price reductions for surgically implanted prostheses, human tissue items and other medical devices that private health insurers must cover. These price changes will come into effect over the next two years
As with the previous price reduction on these types of medical devices, CUA Health will be passing on the savings to our members.
3. Standardised categorisation of hospital products: Gold/Silver/Bronze/Basic
To make it easier for consumers to compare private health insurance, in the future, hospital products will be categorised in a standardised way, regardless of who the provider is. There will be four new categories of hospital products – Gold, Silver, Bronze and Basic - that all providers will offer, as well as three categories of extras cover – Gold, Silver and Bronze.
For each category, there will be minimum levels of coverage. It means you will know, for example, that two bronze products from two different providers will offer the same type of coverage. This is a change that CUA Health welcomes.
We always want our members to know what they are paying for, and to be confident that their policy of choice is not only affordable, but meets their health and life stage needs.
4. Expanded hospital cover for members in rural areas
From 1 April 2019, health insurers will be able to offer travel and accommodation benefits under hospital cover to Australians in regional and rural areas who need to travel for treatment. This will help to reduce some of the costs associated with being admitted to hospital.
5. Increase excess level on hospital covers
Another of the changes coming in from 1 April 2019 is a lift on the cap on excess levels available. From $500 to $750 for singles and from $1000 to $1500 for couples/families.
This will give members the opportunity to choose higher excesses (the upfront amount that you agree to pay towards the cost of hospital treatment) to reduce their premiums, as well as provide young people with a lower price point to buy a hospital cover for the first time.
In addition, this measure will help keeping lower premium increases.
6. Removal of natural therapies benefits
Cover for the natural therapies will be removed from private health insurance products except for Remedial Massage, Chinese Herbalism and Acupuncture.
Some of the services that may not be covered from 1 April 2019 include: Alexander technique, Aromatherapy, Bowen therapy, Buteyko, Feldenkrais, Herbalism, Homeopathy, Iridology, Kinesiology, Naturopathy, Pilates, Reflexology, Rolfing, Shiatsu, Tai chi, and Yoga.
7. Upgrading the privatehealth.gov.au website
The Minister has announced that the Private Health Insurance Ombudsman (PHIO) website privatehealth.gov.au will be redeveloped to improve the assistance it provides consumers to choose a private health insurance product that best meets their needs.
CUA health supports changes to this website that will make it a truly independent comparison tool for all Australians.
We’ll be in touch with our members to give them plenty of notice of each of these changes closer to them taking effect. In the meantime, if you want to learn more, visit The Department of Health website where you can view a full list of reforms as well as timelines.
CUA Health has been helping Australians care for their health since 1976. We’ve put 40 years’ experience into creating health insurance that offers more to help you care for the ones you love – like value-for-money Hospital and Extras cover that’s right for you. To learn more about CUA Health Insurance click here.
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