Australia’s largest not-for-profit private health insurer, HCF, has confirmed that it will defer its approved 2023 premium increase to at least 1 September.
The company previously announced its intention to defer the 3.33 per cent increase, which was approved for 1 April, but it has now confirmed that it will not be applied until at least September.
It said the deferral aims to assist members who are managing the mounting cost of living pressures.
HCF has more than 900,000 health insurance policies covering 1.9 million members.
“We understand that members are feeling financial stress when it comes to cost of living expenses which is why we have kept premium increases as low as we can, and deferred the rise until later in the year,” said CEO Sheena Jack.
“As a not-for-profit health fund that returns 90 cents in every dollar back to members, more than any other insurer, we understand a lot of people are doing it tough, which is why we want to keep the impact on members’ health insurance costs to a minimum.
“There are multiple factors that contribute to increased premiums, including growing demand for inpatient mental health services and increased demand for elective surgery due to public hospital wait times. The largest factor increasing premiums for Australian families is the inflated price of medical devices.
“Unfortunately there are a lot of monetary pressures on the health sector as it’s also impacted by inflation and the cost of doing business. Hospital costs in particular face the rising price of staff recruitment, power and food.”
HCF said its support for members during the COVID-pandemic now exceeds $300 million. This support has included freezing premiums, extending cover for COVID-19-related hospital admissions, and offering premium relief for more than 72,300 eligible members experiencing financial hardship.