Federal rural health minister Senator Bridget McKenzie says the government's reforms to private health insurance will deliver significant benefits to people living in rural and regional areas.
Health minister Greg Hunt announced the reforms in October last year. They include a range of measures, including an age-based discount to encourage more younger people into private health insurance, and allowing insurers to offer travel and accommodation benefits under hospital cover.
This change will allow private health insurers to support people living in rural and regional areas who need to travel to urban centres to receive specialist hospital treatment.
According to Senator McKenzie, currently travel and accommodation can generally only be claimed by people with top-level general treatment (extras) cover. She also said the benefits offered had not kept pace with costs.
“Australians living in rural and regional communities often need to travel to receive hospital treatment in larger urban centres or capital cities,” said Minister McKenzie.
“The Coalition Government’s reforms will come into effect from 1 April 2019, allowing insurers to offer travel and accommodation benefits under hospital cover and not just general treatment policies.
“The improved travel and accommodation benefits are part of a broader package of private health insurance reforms to improve affordability and make private health insurance easier to understand for consumers.
“The government has already reduced the cost of medical devices leading to savings of $1.1 billion over 4 years for consumers and has enabled consumers with mental health concerns to immediately upgrade their private health insurance.
“In addition, from 1 April 2019 Australians under 30 years of age will be able to receive discounts of up to 10 per cent off their private health insurance and new categories of gold, silver, bronze and basic will make private health insurance easier to understand for consumers.
“The reforms are another example of the Coalition Government’s absolute commitment to assisting rural and regional Australians."