Comparison services made up 25 per cent of total private health insurance sales in the past year according to the latest annual survey from the Private Health Insurance Intermediaries Association.
The association said its members completed nearly 200,000 policy sales in the year with over 60,000 of these for new customers to the private health insurance sector.
The fourth annual 'State of the Sector' collected data by private hospital coverage tier, customer type and age. It tracks metrics from PHIIA members, including iSelect, Compare the Market, Health Insurance Comparison and The ItsMy Group.
“At a time of such pressure and focus on health issues, it’s heartening to see so many consumers using and trusting PHIIA members to receive their advice,” said CEO Christopher Zinn.
While each of the basic, bronze and silver tiers increased as a proportion of sales, gold policies declined 34.5 per cent to account for only 7.8 per cent of sales in 2020-21.
Sales to people aged under 40 continue to account for over a third (37.9 per cent) of all policies purchased via PHIIA members. Sales to those aged 65+ accounted for one-in-five policies.
The association's chair Gerald Brown said, “We also found that the proportion of sales of gold policies were consistently higher in younger age categories (19% in the 15-19, 13% 20-24 and 14% in the 25-29 age cohort).
“We believe this reflects the strong demand for psychiatric hospital services that are only available at the gold and silver + tier level.”
The survey has also revealed a 'roller coaster' impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Leads and sales declined in the first quarter of 2020-21 but surged in September 2020 ahead of deferred price rises.
Also, most new to market customers purchased bronze (44.4 per cent) or silver (21.7 per cent) policies, while the value of average Gross Annual Premium (GAP) sales increased across each cover type in 2020- 21. For combined hospitals and extras cover, it was $3,904, up 0.7 per cent on 2019-2020.