Members Health: ACCC 'downplayed' industry's response to pandemic

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Members Health says the latest report from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has "downplayed" the private insurance industry's support for members in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Members Health represents 26 health funds that are not-for-profit or part of a member-owned group, regional or community-based. 

The ACCC's annual report on the private health insurance industry said the regulator will be monitoring the sector to ensure it delivers on the commitment to return to members any excess gained from the limits on elective surgery during to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The health insurance industry has committed hundreds of millions of dollars towards customer support and hardship measures including premium deferrals, waivers, discounts or suspensions, expanded benefits coverage for COVID-19 related treatments and increased telehealth services," said the association in a statement.

“The quick response to the COVID-19 pandemic by the private health insurance industry – particularly the not-for-profit and member-owned funds –is to be commended,” said CEO Matthew Koce.

“The 26 Members Health funds are run for people, not for profits. That means any profits go straight back to benefit policyholders.”

“Australians are turning to health insurers for certainty and peace of mind at this time, and it is no wonder why,” continued Mr Koce. “Private health cover not only provides the fastest available access to high quality care, it also takes pressure of public hospitals, freeing up beds for those that need them most.”

Members Health said the private health system will play an important role in a post-pandemic Australia given public hospital wait lists are now extending beyond a year for many surgeries.

“We are enormously proud of the private health system’s ability to provide fast access to high quality care for conditions that required urgent treatment during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Mr Koce.

“As COVID-19 restrictions have eased, the private health system has moved quickly to catch up on non-urgent elective surgeries and we strongly encourage people not to delay their medical checks and GP visits.”

“Conditions such as skin cancers require fast treatment and our private hospitals and medical professionals have done an amazing job.

“At this point, with public hospitals stretched to catch up on hundreds of thousands of elective surgeries, what could be more important than knowing you and your family are protected with fast access to high quality health care? It’s never been more important to have private cover.”