COVID-19: Medibank extends hardship policy as cases rise

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Medibank has announced an expanded financial hardship policy for members impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Members with Medibank and ahm policies and experiencing severe financial distress are able to access a 50 per cent discount on their premiums for up to six months or further suspend their policy for up to three months as part of a $180 million assistance package.

"The extension of the hardship policy will give customers who have lost their jobs and income or are receiving government support payments, the option of an average premium discount of approximately $800 per policy," it said.

Chief customer officer David Koczkar said the feeling of uncertainly has only increased since the recent rise of COVID-19 cases in Victoria.

“It’s clear that so many Australians are doing it really tough financially right now and while they are struggling to just pay their everyday household bills, customers tell us they don’t want their health cover to lapse," he said.

“We are continuing to check-in on the around 30,000 policyholders who suspended their health cover due to financial hardship and offer them additional support in a form that best suits their current needs.

“So far we have contacted around 9,000 of the customers who have suspended their cover due to COVID-19 financial hardship. A majority of those customers have reactivated their policy or have taken up the 50% premium discount offer, while less than 1% of customers have dropped their cover.

“The additional support means a customer that’s doing it tough can be reassured that their health cover is there for them if they need it, which gives them one less thing to worry about.

“While postponing the 2020 premium increase for 6 months has given all customers some financial relief – around $70 per policy – for those customers in severe financial distress, a saving on average of $800 is going to provide these customers with far more breathing space.

“It’s been so heartwarming to see the difference this additional support has made so far to some of our customers. They have welcomed the support and feel reassured that they can retain their cover to use during this difficult time,” said Mr Koczkar.

The extended hardship policy also gives Medibank and ahm customers who suspended their cover due to financial hardship from COVID-19 the option to apply for an additional suspension. 

The company said the extended policy means it has announced more than $180 million in support to customers during the pandemic, including postponing the approved premium increase, extending coverage to include telehealth services and paying benefits for hospital admissions for conditions related to COVID-19.