'Bemused' over savings claim

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'Bemused' is the response of Private Healthcare Australia to claims the Department of Health was forcing health funds to pass on savings to their members.

The report in The Australian (29 August 17) claimed, "Health funds will be made more accountable for any efficiencies arising from federal government reforms to ensure the savings are passed on to members already struggling with high premiums."

Yet according to Private Healthcare Australia, the report has left some of the sector's senior executives "bemused", because it was health funds, not policy-makers, who proposed passing on all the savings to members.

Price reductions announced earlier this year to around 2,400 medical devices are forecast to deliver savings of around $86 million a year to health fund members.

"Last year it was the health funds themselves that linked Prostheses List medical device reform to premiums, by guaranteeing that every cent of savings would be passed on to members in the form of lower premiums, which saw the average premium increase of 4.8 per cent being the lowest in a decade," said Private Healthcare Australia CEO, Dr Rachel David.

"Health funds have given the same commitment for the upcoming premium round in response to the Government’s planned second round of benefits reductions for Prostheses List medical devices.

"Health funds have long claimed the Prostheses List was a rort, that their members were forced to pay between 2-5 times as much as consumers using the public system or in equivalent countries overseas, and that the cost of medical devices was driving up premiums," added Dr David.