Australian health fund GMHBA Limited has officially launched its campaign regarding the federal government's proposed reforms on the private health insurance rebate, kicking off My Cover Matters on March 1.
GMHBA channel growth manager Brett Cunningham notes that the campaign's primary objective is to "inform and educate" their members about these changes, stating that it was not a political campaign telling people who to vote for.
In 2012 the federal government introduced means testing of the rebate which GMHBA said resulted in health insurance being more expensive for many Australians.
The government is now suggesting further changes which will "negatively impact many low income earners and those already paying a lifetime health cover loading", an action that GMHBA says will make private health insurance less affordable and add more pressure on the public health system if Australians decide to drop their health insurance as a result.
What changes are being proposed?
The My Cover Matters campaign has outlined two of the changes that the federal government has proposed.
1. Removing the rebate "entirely" from the Lifetime Health Cover loading, as of July 1 2013.
If you opted to take out hospital cover before you turned 31, it's likely that you would be paying Lifetime Health Cover loading in addition to your standard premium.
If you received the private health insurance rebate, it would currently apply to your base premium and Lifetime Health Cover loading, but the proposed new changes want to remove the rebate for Lifetime Health Cover loading altogether.
What this means is that if you "incur the loading" and have entitlement to the rebate, from July 1 2013, you will have to pay more – maybe as much as $500 extra every year according to GMHBA.
2. Capping the indexation of the rebate to consumer price index (CPI), as of April 1 2014.
Up until now, premium increases have been "mirrored" by an increase in the rebate, making sure that the rebate you receive "keeps pace with the true cost" of private health insurance.
The proposed federal government changes however, plan to limit rebate increases to "no more than CPI only", even though the cost of healthcare is likely to continue to rise, at a rate the GMHBA says is greater than CPI.
"We believe these changes are a mistake, will limit access to equitable health care and have little to do with positive health care reform," the campaign states on its Facebook page.
"GMHBA Limited does not endorse any political party. This campaign is about policy because we believe that these changes will negatively impact our members, the communities in which they live and the long term viability of the private health sector."