PHA: No need for more inquiries

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There is no need for any more inquiries into the health insurance sector, according to Private Healthcare Australia.

In an interview with Sydney Radio 2GB, in another response to the latest report from the Grattan Institute, association chief executive Dr Rachel David said the issues for the private health insurance sector "are the same" for the entire health system.

"We have known for years that there was a large population - the Baby Boom population - that were going to hit 55. They are going to live longer and they are going to require more surgical treatment and more medical treatment over those years - and the population that has followed that, the working population, was going to either need to pay more to their taxes and health fund premiums to fund the system, or we were going to need to find another way. That is not news, that is something the government and the sector has known for years," said Dr David. 

The PHA boss said maintaining the system of community rating, under which everyone pays the same premium regardless of health and age, means the only solution is to reduce costs or increase the private health insurance rebate for low-income earners.

"So there are the two options; we have given the government some suggestion about areas where we could take some costs out and not impact consumers. They have acted on some of them but there is a long way to go I think in terms of keeping a lid on premiums," she said.

Dr David continued, "Overall, private health insurance does exactly what it says it does. It covers the cost of hospital treatment, but what it can not cover is individual doctor bills. We can not cover, by law, the doctor's bills which occur out of hospital. And for in hospital, we can cover their bill, but they in fact, on top of that can charge whatever they like - they have the constitutional right to do that." 

She said the sector welcomed a commitment by health minister Greg Hunt to establish a website that allows general practitioners and their patients to "navigate their way to a lower-cost provider".