HCF says its "sharp focus on members during COVID-19" has seen it deliver record membership growth in 2019-20.
The insurer said its membership grew by 6 per cent in 2019-20. "In fact, HCF grew more than every other health fund combined," said the insurer.
"This membership growth is the second successive year where HCF has grown more than the industry combined and is a function of exceptional value in our products as well as improved member retention."
HCF said it paid $2.5 billion in member benefits during 2019-20.
According to CEO Sheena Jack, “2020 has been a tough year for many of our members and we wanted to make sure we could not only support them financially but also rapidly provide access to the healthcare services they needed during the pandemic.
"This included access to mental health support, telehealth services, and out of hospital care. We’re very pleased this has been recognised by Australians who have trusted us with their health and seen the value in PHI.”
HCF said the latest report from the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority has shown that the private health insurance industry has "not been immune" to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the twelve months to June 2020, the net margin of Australian health funds fell to 2.7 per cent, a decline of 44 per cent compared to the previous year.
However, while premium revenue was up 1.4 per cent for the year, claims paid by health funds increased by 3.8 per cent.
“As a not-for-profit organisation, our members’ premiums go towards covering the cost of their healthcare and operating our business efficiently to deliver the best outcomes for members, now and in the future. For every dollar members paid in premiums we returned 90 per cent and we have paid out more than the industry average over the past five years,” said Ms Jack.
HCF said that during the pandemic it has committed more than $100 million towards member support. This has included a number of financial hardship measures such its Involuntary Unemployment Assistance benefit that was widened to support more than 56,500 members who have been made redundant, stood down, or who had suffered reduced hours.
It has also included premium waivers or policy suspensions due to financial hardship HCF postponed premium increases for six months for all members. HCF also made the early decision that all hospital policies would cover any COVID-19 related hospital admissions at no extra cost to members.
“Our only reason for being is to serve our members. We do that by delivering what they need when they need it. We are assessing and updating our products and services on a regular basis like the introduction of Australia’s first no-gap pregnancy package with Sydney’s SAN Hospital. These types of initiatives ensure private health insurance remains as relevant now as ever, and our members receive high quality and safe to access services.” added Ms Jack.