Labor says action required to halt 'trend' away from PHI

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Shadow Health Minister Chris Bowen says the latest data from the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority has confirmed the continuing trend away from private health insurance.

"As a result of this Government’s inaction, the cost of private health insurance is at a record high leading to the lowest level of Australians covered by hospital treatment coverage in 13 years," he said.

The data showed benefits paid by private health insurers rose 3.99 per cent in 2019 compared to 2.51 per cent premium revenue.

APRA also expressed concern over the "continued deterioration in insurance performance with net margins declining from 5.2 per cent to 3.9 per cent in the year ending December 2019."

However, the data also confirmed a continued decline in the number of younger Australia with private health insurance, with 11,649 aged 25 – 29  dropping their cover.

"Private health insurance premiums have now risen 33 per cent under the Liberals. This increase is higher than inflation and wages growth. And consumers are paying more for less, with rising exclusions and out-of-pocket costs," said Mr Bowen.

The shadow minister also highlighted recent comments by APRA Board Member Geoff Summerhayes who said a "new approach is urgently needed" on private health insurance and that difficult conversations must occur "involving all the industry‘s major stakeholders’".