Pressure building as next premium round approaches

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The debate is heating up over the upcoming round of premium increases with private health insurers and medical device companies disagreeing over previous pricing reforms.

In a statement, the Medical Technology Association of Australia accused insurers of seeking to "deliberately mislead the public about the causes of premium growth".

“Medical devices make up less than 10 per cent of private insurance benefits," said MTAA CEO Ian Burgess.

“The devices industry was the sole contributor to lower private health insurance premium increases both in 2017 and in 2018. MTAA’s Agreement with the Government is on track to exceed $1.1 billion in expected savings," continued Mr Burgess.

“The claim that the listing of new, innovative and more clinically effective technologies is somehow a negative, is completely absurd and demonstrates that the insurers have lost focus on patients.”

He added, “Patient and clinician choice is a key part of the value proposition of private health insurance, one that risks being eroded by the false claims made by insurers about the cost of devices.

“The medical technology industry believes access to a full range of medical technology is one of the key benefits of having private health insurance and we’re committed to helping ensure all Australians lead healthier and more productive lives.”

In response, Private Healthcare Australia said the prudential regulator has confirmed that while growth in hospital claims has been stable at 0.3 per cent the cost of claims for medical devices has risen 8.6 per cent.

"Health funds delivered the lowest premium increase in 17 years (3.25%) in good faith, expecting savings from medical device reforms. Health funds contributed $100m to the implement the PHI reforms and $60m towards the mental health safety net," it said.