Fall in complaints against private health insurers

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A significant fall in the number of complaints reported against private health insurers during the December quarter.

In their statistical update for the final three months of 2017, the ombudsman has reported 940 private health insurance complaints, down 22 per cent from 1,204 for the corresponding period in 2016 and down from 1,222 in the September 2017 quarter.

The number of complaints has returned to what is considered more normal levels after a spike in 2016-17 driven by IT issues at one health fund.

Bupa, Australia's largest health insurer, received the largest number of complaints, followed by Medibank.

Issues in relation to hospital exclusions and restrictions were the largest complaint category in the December quarter, with 105, followed by problems and delays associated with processing requests to transfer memberships and handling payments or refunds. 

“Any complaint is one too many but we share the Ombudsman’s pleasure that what is an already low level of complaints against our sector, which helped about 40 per cent of customers who bought health insurance in 2017, has fallen again and represents only 2% of all complaints,” said Christopher Zinn CEO of the Private Health Insurance Intermediaries Association. 

“The issue around consumers being frustrated by delays and issues, while presumably trying to find better value by switching to other funds, merits more attention,” he concluded.