Mark Butler approves increase for private health insurance premiums

Latest News

Health minister Mark Butler has announced an average annual premium increase of 2.9 per cent for Australians with private health insurance.

Mr Butler said the average increase, which is slightly higher than last year's 2.7 per cent, is still well below the 10-year average of 4.4 per cent and inflation.

"Around 14.4 million Australians have private health insurance and access more than $22 billion in health and medical benefits each year," said the minister in a statement.

The increase will take effect from 1 April 2023 but Mr Butler said some private health insurers might defer the rise as they did during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Other providers continue to offer reduced premiums, cashbacks, expanded benefits and other measures, introduced in response to the COVID-19 pandemic," he said.

"The Government and private health insurers are working together to achieve better value for policyholders while also ensuring the cost of providing high-quality care which includes the wages for nurses and medical workers in private hospitals are funded."

Mr Butler said the government's reform agenda includes medical devices and enhancing the Mediccal Costs Finder which aims to improve the transparency in out-of-pocket costs for medical specialist services.

“Private Health Insurers must ensure their members are getting value for their money and when costs rise they want to know higher premiums are contributing to system-wide improvements, like higher wages for nurses and other health workers," he said.

“All Australians deserve access to affordable treatments and the devices they need to stay healthy and live full and productive lives.

“Our Government supports people who hold private health insurance with around $6.9 billion through the private health insurance rebate each year.”

Private Healthcare Australia said more needs to be done to maintain downward pressure on premiums.

“Recognising the impact of escalating cost of living pressures on Australian families and growing demand for private health insurance, health funds are doing all they can to keep premium increases as close to zero as possible,” said CEO Dr Rachel David.

Dr David continued, “As inflation and cost of living expenses increase so too does the cost of health care, putting upward pressure on premiums, and with government-sanctioned overpricing continuing in some areas of healthcare, it is increasingly difficult to keep costs down.

“The largest factor currently increasing premiums for Australian families is the inflated price of generic medical devices. Australians pay 30 - 100 per cent more than people in countries such as New Zealand, the United Kingdom, France and South Africa for commonly used generic medical devices.

“Reform is happening to reduce medical device prices in line with the market, but it is occurring at a glacial pace while people are struggling.

“PHA is calling on the Albanese Government to immediately cease the over-pricing of medical devices for the private sector and bring costs in line with the public sector, then commission the ACCC to review a better way forward to prioritise consumer interests."