Australians looking to leave health insurers

Richard Laycock 13 February 2017 NEWS

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Switch or ditch: More than a quarter of Australians are ready to leave their health funds.

With health insurance premiums set to rise by 4.84% in 2017, many Australians are getting ready to say sayonara to their current health fund.

Recent survey data has found that almost one third (36%) of Australians are prepared to move health funds if a better deal presents itself. Roughly one in five (22%) said they would ditch their cover all together if their premiums were to rise by 5% or more again this year.

While this years premium's rise of 4.84% is the lowest annual increase in a decade, premiums have gone up over 40% since 2010. Check out our full list of how prices will rise in April.

According to the minister for health and sport, Greg Hunt, this year's increase will mean that the average punter will be paying an additional $2 a week for cover ($104 per year), while families will be paying an extra $4 ($208 per year). But those figures may be on the low side. According to research conducted by finder.com.au, Australians will be paying an extra $191 on average this year, with the average cost of hospital and extras cover in Australia to rise to $4,138.50.

While any price rise is unwelcome, this year's decade low increase provides some respite for the 13 odd million Australians with private health insurance who have only seen health insurance premiums rise steadily faster than the inflation rate.

But why does the cost of health insurance continue to go up?

There are many factors that have been buoying health insurance costs. One is that Australia, much like the rest of the world, has an ageing population. This means that more people are relying on health insurance rebates, forcing up the costs levied at health funds, which in turn is then passed onto the consumer. In the 2016 financial year, the amount of benefits paid out by private health insurers increased 5.4%.

While advancements in health technology and treatments mean that we are receiving better levels of care, this increased care comes at an increased cost.

Finally, according to Australian Private Hospitals Association (APHA) CEO Michael Roff, private patients being treated in public hospitals plays a huge factor in rising premiums and costs the private health insurance industry roughly $1 billion per year.

“Australians pay for universal health care through their taxes, they should be able to access the public system when they need it, not have those beds taken up by private patients.

“For private patients treated in public hospitals, it effectively means they are paying for their healthcare twice," Roff said.

Compare health insurance costs with our handy tool.

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