PHA: Choice criticising a policy it helped develop

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Private Healthcare Australia has challenged a claim by Choice that reforms, including product categorisations, are "causing widespread confusion and stress."

Choice said it took down its private health insurance comparison tool "as it cannot recommend products given the current state of the market."

According to the organisation, “It’s frankly dishonest for anyone to say they can provide a true comparison of the health insurance market right now. New policies will be released over the coming weeks and months that will change in coverage and price. Until we have all the facts about the quality of cover in the market, no one can tell you what the best value for money policy will be for your needs."

Private Healthcare Australia has challenged the claims given the reforms developed by a range of stakeholders, including Choice, particularly in relation to improving customer information.

“Choice is now questioning the PHI reforms on the eve of their introduction, on the basis of a so-called national survey which appears to consist of 1700 solicited complaints," said chief executive Dr Rachel David.

Private health insurers have started implementing the reform that will see all private health insurance policies categorised as gold, silver, bronze or basic. 

“The Government’s PHI Reforms were developed over a two-year period in cooperation with health funds, private hospitals, medical specialists, allied health groups and consumer representatives to address this concern, make PHI easier to understand and to help consumers choose the cover that best suits their needs,” she added.

“More than 13.5 million Australians hold PHI and over half of those have disposable incomes under $50,000 per annum. Many of these are full pensioners and superannuants who are making considerable sacrifices to maintain their health insurance.

"They believe they get value from their health cover and they want to keep it. According to IPSOS research 80% of people with PHI believe they get value for money and in addition to the timing of medical treatment they cite choice of specialist for continuity of care and choice of hospital as the main reasons, however affordability is their major concern."