Members Health says 'waiting lists' driving membership growth

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Members Health says a "looming crisis" in Australia’s public health system is driving more people to take out private cover to avoid surgery waiting lists.

Figures from the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) show more people have been turning to the country’s private system.

Members Health CEO Matthew Koce said there has never been a more pressing time for Australians to get health cover. 

Members Health represents not-for-profit and member-owned health funds

“Public hospitals across the country have been impacted by COVID-19 as they try to accommodate the very real risk of a full-blown pandemic crisis,” said Mr Koce.

“Public patients needing elective surgery have had to be moved to the side, with waits now blowing out into years, not months.”

Members Health said its analysis of APRA private health insurance industry data, current to the latest quarter (June 2021), shows that the number of people joining its member funds has surged.

It said that over the past year, Members Health funds have grown their number of people covered on hospital policies by about 3.8 per cent – more than twice the pace of the rest of the industry. Their market share has lifted from around 28 per cent to an all-time high of more than 31 per cent. 

“Since 2016, our funds have attracted more than 400,000 new people to their hospital treatment policies – a remarkable increase of 12.7 per cent,” said Mr Koce.

“People of all ages are voting with their feet when it comes to health cover. In a year that has forced many Australians to reflect upon their future wellbeing, it is especially encouraging to see so many young and healthy people take out cover with a not-for-profit or member-owned fund they can trust.”

Mr Koce said Members Health funds have seen higher growth rates across key age groups including under 25s and the important family raising years of 30-39s.

“The future of Australia’s community-rated private health care system relies on young people taking out cover and it is reassuring to see all of industry growth for those aged 45 and under exceed 124,000 over the last 12 months,” he said.