West Australia’s three health funds have banded together to warn members that the latest Gillard Government proposals to reduce the Private Health Insurance Rebate will further erode the affordability of private health cover.
Putting commercial interests to one side, HIF, HBF and GMF Health not-for-profit health insurance funds, urge members to join them to protest against Federal moves to again roll back incentives to take out private health insurance.
Legislation due to be debated in Federal Parliament on Thursday (March 14) would affect policy holders who pay the Lifetime Health Cover loading that applies if they took out private health cover after the age of 31. The rebate would no longer be calculated on the full cost of their premiums, but only the portion excluding the loading.
The measure would directly impact more than 55,000 HBF, HIF and GMF policy holders currently paying the Lifetime Health Cover loading. Especially hurt would be elderly members who had taken out health cover late in life. Some would see the cost of their cover rise by more than $900 as a direct result of this change.
The Federal Government has also announced a further change to the Private Health Insurance Rebate under which rebate payments from April 2014 would be calculated using a base premium set and indexed by the Health Minister, rather than on the actual cost of the policy to members. The WA funds predict that over time this would seriously reduce the rebate relative to the premiums paid by members.
HIF managing director Graeme Gibson said the proposed changes had snuck under the radar of many of the 12.4 million Australians with private health insurance who already found the government policies affecting their private health cover, complex and difficult to understand.
“We want to ensure that all families, single parents, couples and individuals with private health insurance are very clear that these changes will cost them extra money,” Mr Gibson said.
“We work hard to provide the best value policies for our members and to keep prices down to the minimum necessary and these changes will erode our efforts.”
HBF managing director Rob Bransby said some health fund members over 70 who paid a loading and who depended on a 40 per cent rebate would find the additional cost of their policy
“The means test introduced by this Government last year mainly hurt health fund members on higher incomes. But it’s clear that the pain from this change will be felt by the least well off elderly members” Mr Bransby said.
This latest claw back of support for private health insurance follows the Gillard Government’s introduction of the means testing of the rebate in July last year that reduced rebate payments down from 30 per cent depending on individual, single parent, couple or family incomes (and down from 35 per cent or 40 per cent for older insured Australians).
Media contacts: Alison Batcheler or Donna Cole on 08 6102 7295 or 0402 056 550