Greater choice in private health

New products, more choices and new regulation will deliver private health insurance that responds to people’s needs.

Page last updated: 09 May 2006

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9 May 2006

Changes to health fund regulation will allow insurers to offer products that better reflect current clinical practice and people’s needs.

Private health insurance - improvements to products

From April 2007, health funds will be allowed to cover a broader range of health services. The new products will continue to attract the Government’s private health insurance rebates.

Private health insurance will continue to cover in-hospital treatment and may also include services that can be safely delivered outside of hospital. Outpatient services, wellness and prevention programmes and chronic care management for conditions such as asthma and diabetes can also be covered.

These changes will remove the artificial incentive for fund members to be hospitalised in order to use their insurance. There will be a new emphasis on preventative health care for those with private health insurance.

Patients will have access to more information about the costs of services prior to treatment. A survey will be run to assess any improvement in this area.

Members with Lifetime Health Cover loadings, who have held the cover to which the loadings apply for ten years continuously, will have their loadings removed. This is a significant reward for long serving members who pay the loadings.

    Private health insurance - enhanced choices

    Health funds will be required to provide consumers with standard product information that includes premiums, any restrictions, excesses or waiting periods and any hospital or medical gaps that may apply when using the product, for each product they sell.
      A new website, to be managed by the Private Health Insurance Ombudsman, will be created to provide information that makes it easier for consumers to compare health funds and the products they sell.
        Information campaigns to raise public awareness of the benefits of private health insurance, will include an ongoing direct marketing campaign targeting consumers who face deadlines under Lifetime Health Cover from 1 April 2007, and a general communication campaign on the benefits of private cover, jointly funded with the industry.

        These initiatives will cost $50.4 million over four years.

          Private health insurance - appropriate regulation

          Current legislation on private health insurance will be amended to make it simpler and more effective, while protecting consumers and the public interest. The industry, consumers and other stakeholders will be consulted on the proposed new legislation.

          New industry-wide safety and quality standards will be introduced to ensure that all private health services are delivered by accredited and/or suitably qualified providers, from
          1 July 2008. The arrangements will be developed in conjunction with the work of the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care.

          From 1 April 2007 the emphasis of the legislation will be on regulating products rather than the activities of insurance providers.

          Media contact: Kate Miranda 0417 425 227

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