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28 Aug 2019

Hospital cover has dropped to its lowest level in 12 years, with the percentage of Australians with basic cover continuing to plummet.

Only 44.2 per cent of the population has basic hospital cover, which is the lowest level since 2007 and a whole percentage point lower than the same time last year.

More than 28,000 Australians quit their policies in the three months from March this year.

The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) recently released its latest data, showing health insurance premiums continuing to rise faster than wages.

Premiums rose almost 2.8 per cent over the June quarter.

Responding to the alarming figures, AMA President Dr Tony Bartone described the trend as highly concerning.

“This is a continuation of the same trend, the same spiralling down trend we’ve been referring to for many months now,” Dr Bartone told the ABC.

“We need to address the issues underpinning this decline to ensure equity and access to the public health system.

“Our public health system is predicated on a specific amount of work being done on the private system — that is relieving a lot of pressure on public systems.

“If that was to fall over tomorrow, that would create an enormous burden, an enormous burden the public system could not cope with.”

Australians pay an average of $315 in out-of-pocket expenses when they go to hospital.

The APRA report also found that out-of-pocket costs varied depending on location. Gap fees for specialists averaged $151, with Canberrans charged more (average gap fee of $271.40) and South Australians paying the least (average gap fee $69.37). 

Health Minister Greg Hunt said the Federal Government was delivering “significant reforms” to private health insurance, making it simpler and more affordable.

“Work has already commenced with the healthcare sector to identify and implement the next wave of improvements for private health care,” he said in a statement.

CHRIS JOHNSON

 

 


Published: 28 Aug 2019