PHA: CHOICE 'activist' investigation not reality

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Private Healthcare Australia says CHOICE has "once again demonstrated" it is an 'activist ' organisation rather than one focussed on consumers.

The association was responding to an 'investigation' by CHOICE in which the organisation claimed private health insurers were 'falling short' in their response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, according to Private Healthcare Australia CEO Dr Rachel David, health funds were one of the first sectors to offer support to their members during the pandemic.  

"In the first week of lockdown genuine financial support was offered to tens of thousands of Australians in the form of hardship packages," she said.

Private Healthcare Australia said since March, funds have approved 100,000 financial hardship applications from members, totalling $107 million. The hardship provisions include postponing the approved 1 April premium increase and waiving premiums.

It said health funds are also giving members access to new services during COVID-19, including telehealth for some allied services, treatment in the home (such as chemotherapy) and access to mental health and well-being programs in addition to the usual funding of in-hospital mental health treatment.

Dr David said, “As the government’s ban on elective (essential non-emergency) surgery lasted only six weeks, the savings predicted by some have not eventuated for health funds. However, the full and accurate picture will be known in a few months’ time when APRA claims data is released.

"It is at this point, that health funds will evaluate their financial position in line with regulatory capital requirements and consider if savings need to be returned to members or if no savings eventuated as a result of COVID-19.

“It’s time for CHOICE to stop its activist campaign against Australian businesses doing the right thing by consumers during this challenging time, for the good of our economy and healthcare system,” added Dr David.