Australia’s largest not-for-profit health insurer HCF will return $66 million of claims savings to its customers.
In the early period of the pandemic, the prudential regulator directed health insurers to set aside funds for claims deferred due to the temporary halt on most elective surgery. Insurers are now in the process of returning this 'deferred claims liability' in the form of cash payments and claims.
In a statement, HCF said it had provided over $150 million in support to its customers during the pandemic.
CEO Sheena Jack said this support reflected the insurer's commitment to return claims savings to members in recognition of the impact of COVID-19 restrictions on their ability to access some health services over the past 20 months.
“The anticipated volume in claims due to the postponement of some health services has not fully eventuated, which means we're passing these savings on to all members by freezing premiums at current rates until 1 November 2022,” said Ms Jack.
“The freezing of premiums at current rates was the most cost-effective way of returning funds to members. Our aim is to make the process as simple as possible so that every dollar of savings is returned to members and not to a costly return process. This action is in line with our commitment to keep health cover affordable and available to as many Australians as possible.
“As a not-for-profit health fund, we exist only for our members. As Australians face ongoing challenges to their health and wellbeing, we are keeping our promise of not profiting from the pandemic,” said Ms Jack.
“We also need to remember a vast amount of suspended surgery will continue to be conducted in the future when service providers get back to normal. We need to ensure we have sufficient provisions to cover those costs when they occur.”
HCF said it has provided a range of support during the pandemic, including providing premium relief to more than 71,000 customers experiencing severe hardship, a six-month deferral of last year’s premium increase, covering COVID-19 related hospital admissions at no extra cost to members, expanded mental health and telehealth support, as well as more treatment at-home options.