Australia's largest health insurance provider, Medibank, says more Australians are relying on hospital care and are using more services than ever before.
According to a new Medibank press release, the health fund paid out more than $3.47 billion in healthcare benefits to its members in the 2015 financial year, an increase of 3.4 per cent from the previous financial period.
When hospital and extras benefits from Medibank and ahm (another Medibank-backed health insurer), are taken into account, the care provided equated to a record $5.1 billion, which was $200 million more than the year before.
The five most popular procedures
Overall, more than 1.2 million claims were made by Medibank members for hospital admissions and procedures in the 12 months to June 2015. Of these, the top five were:
- Childbirth: 20,689
- Rehabilitation: 17,355
- Knee replacement: 8,043
- Shoulder procedures: 6,486
- Hip replacement: 5,770
When we consider the growing cost of hip and knee replacements, among other procedures, it's no surprise Medibank is paying more.
It's also somewhat of a justification for rising premiums. The annual premium hikes of around 6 per cent have long been attributed to the burden placed on the healthcare industry by an ageing population, the rising expense of treatment and the cost of new medical technologies.
With health insurance premiums set to rise again on April 1, 2016, Medibank's findings may support the above-inflation increases. However, while the average premium rate rise has historically been 6 per cent, the increase in the cost of benefits from the insurer is still notably below this amount.
More than 1.2 million claims were made by Medibank members for hospital admissions and procedures in the 12 months to June 2015.
Relieving some pressure
Medibank's Managing Director, George Savvides, said a recent profit projection upgrade could see them release more money into improving health services, something that could help relieve what he called the "added pressure" in the industry.
"Overall, we know the costs of private healthcare are increasing. We know Australians are going to hospital more often – the number of hospital admissions per member has grown on average 3.7 per cent every year for the last five years," Mr Savvides said.
"Add to this the rising costs of services, and that patients receive more treatments per admission, and there is increasing pressure across the entire sector."
If you're worried about your health insurance costs, HICA can help you compare health insurance and find a policy that suits your life, medical needs and budget. Call us today on 1300 44 22 01.