Members Health says growth reflects confidence in private system


Members Health says its members welcome the latest statistical release that shows private health insurance participation across Australia has hit a new all-time high.

The latest release from the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) has revealed that 11.44 million Australians, or 44.5 per cent of the population, now have hospital treatment cover.

Matthew Koce, the CEO of Members Health that represents not for profit or member-owned health funds, said the sustained growth over the past four quarters was a clear and unequivocal demonstration of confidence in the private health system.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has helped contribute to a growing appreciation of the enormous value and peace of mind that comes with private health cover,” said Mr Koce.

“Nothing could be more important than your health and that of your loved ones. Private health insurance assures the fastest available access to high-quality care with doctor of choice. Importantly, it also helps to free up beds in overstretched public hospitals.

“Australia’s ageing population, growing burden of chronic disease and the COVID-19 pandemic have created a perfect storm for what was an already ailing public health system. Long public hospital waits for emergency care and elective surgery have become much more commonplace, highlighting the importance of the private health care system.

“As more people switch to private health care, it will help free up public hospital beds, reducing the enormous pressure they are expected to experience for many years to come. Waits for some procedures in the public system can extend well into the years.”

Ms Koce attributed the sector's increased profitability in the June quarter to a steep decline in previous quarters combined with the gradual unwinding of the Deferred Claims Liability (DCL) set aside during the pandemic-related halt in elective surgery.

“It is pleasing that since April 2021 APRA has allowed health insurers to gradually return unspent monies in the DCL back to their balance sheets so they can be returned to policyholders,” Mr Koce said.

“Members Health funds are not for profit and member-owned and are committed to returning the unspent DCL back to policyholders through lower premiums.

“Health insurers were quick to introduce premium deferrals, waivers, hardship relief and telehealth at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic. They remain committed to working with APRA and stand ready to continue supporting their policyholders throughout the ongoing pandemic.”