As the escalating costs of private health insurance collide with COVID-19-impacted household incomes, leading national private health insurer HIF has appointed a new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) with a bold plan to renew confidence.
Justin James has taken the helm at HIF as CEO as Managing Director of 15 years, Graeme Gibson, retires. Justin joins HIF after holding senior executive positions in the insurance and finance sectors, most recently with private health insurer Bupa in the dual role of both Director of Customer Growth and Risk & Compliance.
At a time when the private health insurance industry faces a number of major challenges, renewing member confidence is Justin’s priority.
“For all health insurers, including HIF, affordability is the greatest challenge faced by consumers,” he said. “This affordability is across two lenses.
First, the price of private health insurance and the annual premium increase required to pay for claims inflation. And second, the out-of-pockets incurred when using our services.
“We’re committed to addressing both areas as we look to improve the affordability and value HIF members get from their private health insurance. I'm conscious that there will be many areas that will need to be tackled to deliver better affordability for HIF members including digital services, enhancing our relationships with stakeholders and continuing to lobby for broader reform including delayed prosthesis benefits, while also tackling areas of waste across and within the system,” Justin said.
“The push being made by public hospitals to get patients with private health insurance to use their cover in an emergency setting instead of being admitted as a public patient has driven up the costs for private health insurers and all privately insured members unnecessarily,” he added.
He is also conscious that the sector’s reputation has come under scrutiny as a result of the Hayne Royal Commission and Justin believes the private health care industry needs to do better in order to renew consumer confidence.
Justin will be leading the 100,000-strong HIF membership into the future with a vision to renewed member confidence.
“HIF is a member-based not-for-profit health fund and we must make sure we educate and support our members. We will do this by being honest and transparent, by being flexible and adaptable, by embracing innovation and technology, by listening and by doing the right thing by our members,” he said.
“For instance, the telehealth benefits for Extras services that we implemented for COVID-19 have now become permanent as an alternative treatment option when members find it difficult to get to face-to-face appointments.
“We’re also committed to communicating and connecting better with our member community. We plan to create a Community Lounge for our members in our head office where they can relax and access tea, coffee and a computer as well as interact with HIF staff. We’re also looking at wellness events that may add value.”
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