Younger consumers want more value and choices in health insurance

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According to a new survey commissioned by the Private Health Insurance Intermediaries Association, young people want better value and more choices from private health insurance.

The association (PHIIA) is the industry body representing private health insurance comparison services and brokers.

The online survey, conducted by Survey Matters, involved 302 respondents aged between 20 and 35. Respondents included a mix of people with and without private health insurance.

More than half (53 per cent) of respondents said they did not have private health insurance because they could not afford it. Yet only 15 per cent believed the public health system adequately met their needs. Ten per cent planned to take out cover when they turn 30.

Respondents also revealed that they value affordability in their health insurance policy, including dental, ambulance, better access to mental health care services and services not yet available such as GP visits and prescriptions.

According to the PHIIA, respondents to the survey highlighted a key intergenerational challenge, including younger people subsidising the needs of seniors.

The 'sticks and carrots' of tax and loadings, which only apply to hospital cover, led 25 per cent of respondents to take out private health insurance.

"The clear message is that younger people want items they feel are relevant and can use, such as dental, mental health and GP's. When they discover how the system works, they are shocked they are subsiding 'Boomers' policies," said PHIIA CEO Christopher Zinn.

Almost three-in-ten (29 per cent) said they did not want hearing aids included in their policy. While just three per cent accessed mental health services as an extra in the past year, 48 per cent said they would like it included if they could tailor their cover.

In addition, with in-hospital dental treatment such as wisdom teeth removal, 19 per cent had used their cover, but 56 per cent would like it in a tailored policy. Around three in four (74 per cent) respondents nominated accident cover as a key inclusion in their ideal private health insurance policy.

"Instead of policies being in a package, you should only be paying for what you use only," said one respondent. Another said, "The ability to pick and choose services without it being tied to others that aren't needed."

"There's much talk about intergenerational justice regarding other sectors such as housing. It may be time to use that lens to see how we can improve the health insurance offer to younger Australians," added Zinn.