Just because you have 'consumer' in the name


How can any organisation lament the affordability of private health insurance while calling for it to be more expensive?

The Consumers Health Forum has again, in a single sentence, bemoaned rising premiums while effectively calling for private health insurance to be made far more expensive through abolition of the rebate.

Premiums will rise on 1 April by an average 3.95 per cent - the lowest since 2001 and a lot better than how much they would rise if the rebate was abolished.

The organisation that claims to represent health consumers was backing a call by the so-called Australian Health Care Reform Alliance for government to conduct a review of private health insurance.

The 'Alliance' is comprised of a number of groups, none of which can honestly claim to represent Australians with private health insurance, and recently called on government to conduct a review of private health insurance.

In a statement, the organisation simply made a number of unsupported assertions in relation to private health insurance and the rebate, some of them demonstrably incorrect.

Then along comes the CHF to lend its support.

"It is becoming increasingly difficult to justify the many billions of dollars of taxpayer money pumped into health insurance when the result of shrinking cover and continually rising premiums is making private medical care a daunting prospect," said CEO Leanne Wells.

Why is it becoming "increasingly difficult" to justify government spending on the rebate? Because the CHF says so is not an argument.

How can an organisation complain about rising premiums when it backed the policy changes to the rebate, including means testing and changes to indexation, that had the explicit goal of making private health insurance more expensive?

The cost of private health insurance is rising less than spending on public hospitals and Medicare. Yet, it seems for some organisations, spending on public good, spending on private bad.

Just because an organisation has the word 'consumers' in its name does not mean it actually represents them.