Private health insurance premiums to rise by 3.25% in 2019

Posted: 19 December 2018 11:10 am

It's the lowest year-on-year premium increase in 18 years.

In what comes as somewhat welcome news for the hip-pockets of Australian consumers, the government today announced that health insurance premiums will go up on average 3.25% on 1 April 2019, which is an 18-year low.

The 3.25% premium rate rise in 2019 will be the lowest since 2001 and according to the government is less than the "4.1% inflation for medical and hospital services this year."

"This premium change will see a single person will pay an average of $1.14 extra per week and a family on average will pay $2.35 more a week," minister for health Greg Hunt said in a statement.

Which fund is raising its premiums the least?

Westfund members will see their premiums rise by the lowest amount, with premiums going up by an average of 1.64% in 2019. GUHealth comes in second with 1.80%, followed by HBF 1.94%. At the other end of the spectrum, Nurses & Midwives Health premiums rising are rising the most in 2019, with an average jump of 5.91%. HCI has the second highest rise at 5.53%, followed by Navy Health at 4.94%.

Out of the big four health funds, Bupa's average premiums are going the least in 2019 at 2.99%. Bupa is HCF with 3.20%, Medibank (3.30%) and nib (3.38%).

Managing director of Bupa Health Insurance Dr Dwayne Crombie said that the lower than average increase is a recognition issues facing Aussie families.

"This lower increase means we will share some of that cost with our members, but we also continue the push for broader reform of the health system as every component has a role to play in keeping healthcare affordable for Australians," Dr Crombie said in a statement.

How much are your premiums going up in 2019 vs 2018?

Australian Unity3.89%3.35%
CBHS Corporate2.38%3.68%
Cessnock District Health6.40%3.90%
Defence Health5.97%4.50%
Doctors' Health2.28%2.94%
Emergency Services Health3.36%3.25%
GU Health2.84%1.80%
Health Partners3.95%3.18%
Latrobe Health4.25%3.85%
MO Health3.90%4.45%
Navy Health3.94%4.94%
Nurses & Midwives Health3.22%5.91%
Phoenix Health4.19%3.26%
Police Health3.72%3.58%
Queensland Country Health Fund4.39%3.95%
RT Health4.47%3.36%
Teachers Health2.84%3.94%
Transport Health5.16%3.41%
Industry weighted average3.95%3.25%

Health reforms to help curb year-on-year increases

Since 2010, health insurance premiums have risen steadily each year and while the last couple of years have seen record low year-on-year rate rises, the increase in 2019 means the cost of the average policy has risen by over 50% since 2010. However, Private Healthcare Australia chief executive Dr Rachel David hopes that the health insurance reforms that are set to roll out in the near future will help to ease the affordability issues.

"The reforms were developed over a two-year period by Government, health funds, private hospitals, medical specialists and allied health groups. Passed by the Parliament in September, the package of reforms is already starting to deliver results with this year's premium increase lower than it would otherwise be," said Dr David.

There are a range of reforms set to take place in 2019. One big change will be the health insurance tiers: Gold, Silver, Bronze and Bronze Basic. Policies will have to meet minimum requirements at each level, which should make comparing polices easier for consumers.

One other major change is age-based discounts. If you're under 30, you'll get a discount of 2% (up to 10%) for every year you hold cover and that discount will remain in place until you turn 30.

While it's only December, April is just four months away and is a busy time for people switching health funds before the rate rise kicks in. If you want to beat the rate rise, you can always pre-pay your year's premiums in March and avoid the 3.25% rise in 2019.

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