APRA figures nothing new, say insurers

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Data released late last week by the prudential regulator on private health insurance is not new and should not distract from the need to "get on and fix the problems in our healthcare sector", according to Private Healthcare Australia.

The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority released its annual private health insurance coverage survey last week, for the 12 months to the end of December 2018.

The survey was the consolidation of already released data but did confirm a decline in the proportion of the Australian population with private hospital cover - from 45.6 per cent in December 2017 to 44.6 per cent in December 2018.

The number of younger Australians with private hospital cover also declined. The number of Australians aged 20-34 with private hospital cover fell by 77,000 during 2018.

According to Private Healthcare Australia’s chief executive, Dr Rachel David, “Every time a report is released the usual suspects call for another review. There have been multiple reviews into private health in recent years that have all reached the same conclusions. 

“The latest report released by APRA is actually a compilation of data released quarterly during 2018. It is not new. The government and healthcare sector have known for years about the demographic challenges facing the health system, impacting both Medicare and the private sector, and we are working on further reforms to keep the health system sustainable.

“We know that our ageing population will increase pressure on the health system and we know that young people have the perception they are paying more and getting less. It is however a misconception that young people don’t receive value from their health cover, especially in the areas of dental and mental health treatment young people are getting value.

“Health funds paid out nearly half a million claims to people under 30 last year. We understand we need to make cover more affordable for young people but in order to maintain community rating, we need to address waste in the system, and provide subsidies for care where it is economically efficient to do so,” said Dr David.

“We have already made significant progress down that path with the PHI reforms, and are working with the government to ensure our health system continues to deliver high quality, accessible and affordable care for all Australians.

“Government and the healthcare sector must work together to ensure the healthcare needs of our aging baby boomer population can be funded,” added Dr David.