Device companies call for 'below zero' increase

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The Medical Technology Association of Australia has welcomed this year's average private health insurance premium increase.

Health minister Greg Hunt recently announced the average 2.9 per cent increase that will be the lowest in 19 years.

MTAA CEO Ian Burgess said the approved increase disproves claims medical device prices would force premiums to rise over 3.5 per cent.

“No matter how you spin it, this is an embarrassing capitulation for Australia’s ‘Big 3’ corporate insurers,” he said. “Minister Hunt has not only stood firm and called their bluff, but also forced the ‘Big 3’ – Bupa, Medibank and NIB – to admit that they can afford to dip into their pockets and profits to lower their prices.

“The ‘Big 3’ insurers must therefore be forced to submit price cuts below zero per cent the next few premium rounds to ensure no more Australians are priced out of their health fund while the Minister undertakes further reform.

“Over the past decade we saw private health premiums increase at a faster rate than national house prices – as a country we can’t afford to allow the ‘Big 3’ corporate insurers to get away with that again."