Labor tells sector cap is staying

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Labor is pushing ahead with its planned two-year two percent cap on private health insurance premium increases.

The private health sector was well represented at yesterday's Federal Labor Business Forum in Sydney.

It is understood they were told Labor is committed to the policy despite some unconfirmed speculation it was considering making changes to ameliorate the impact on smaller not-for-profit insurers.

The sector has repeatedly warned Labor over the policy's potential impact on the sector, particularly if it also imposes restrictions on the ability of insurers to manage the cap on premium growth through changes in benefit arrangements.

The sector has argued the cap risks the financial well-being of health insurers, particularly smaller regional funds, and will only result in a delay in sustainable premium growth in line with benefit outlays.

It is thought to be focused on negotiating a managemeable outcome rather than push for a complete backdown.

Increasing claims and benefit outlays are the significant driver of premium growth. 

According to the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority, benefits paid by private health insurers in 2016-17 rose 4.5 percent.

The annual decline in the private health insurance rebate, through lower indexation, is also a factor impacting the affordability of private health insurance.