Survey reveals importance of private insurance to mental health services

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A survey commissioned by HCF has found that almost half of Australians accessing mental health services through their private health insurance would lose some or all access to their existing mental healthcare if it was not covered.

The survey of over 3,000 Australian adults was conducted by 5th Dimension Research and Consulting.

It found 46 per cent of people would either stop using (22 per cent) or cut down (24 per cent) their access to mental health support services if it was not available through their private health fund. This is despite 87 per cent agreeing mental wellbeing is as important as physical health.

HCF's chief officer of member health, Julie Andrews, said the results show it is more important than ever that people have access to a range of quality mental health support services.

“Mental health can be a complex field of care, which is why healthcare providers and funders, including private health funds, need to help people navigate their options of support,” said Ms Andrews.

“Our research tells us that more than one in two (54%) Australians have either experienced mental health issues themselves or know someone who has, but we also know there’s no one size fits all solution.”

HCF said it has introduced a range of mental health and well-being programs to provide people with greater choice in how and where care is delivered.

“There is no doubt the mental health of Australians has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. We received great pick up of our online and telehealth services after introducing them last April, which may indicate that people are reaching out for help earlier in their healthcare journeys to deal with life’s complexities in a healthy way,” said Ms Andrews.

“By enabling easy, online access to healthcare professionals and bespoke support, we’re focused on adapting and innovating to meet members’ changing health needs, while making mental healthcare more affordable for more people.”

HCF said it has partnered with Hello Sunday Morning, an Australian not-for-profit organisation dedicated to helping all types of people who want to change their relationship with alcohol, to give members access to Daybreak - an anonymous alcohol support program.

So far 70 per cent of participants have been females who have sought help early in their health journey, compared with 30 per cent of men who have typically entered via the severe pathway.