New figures indicate that an increasing number of Australians are choosing private health insurance.
Private Health Insurance Administration Council (PHIAC) data for the September quarter show that almost 53 per cent of the population are now covered by hospital, general or combined treatment policies – the highest percentage in 35 years.
Insurance providers paid a total of $2,631 million in hospital treatment benefits between June and September – an increase of 5.1 per cent compared to the previous quarter.
The 20 – 39 age group saw a significant increase in benefits, due to the rise in those associated with child bearing offered to females.
Since September 2010, hospital treatment benefits per person increased from $899.90 to $964.49, with the largest amount of benefits spent on hospital accommodation and nursing, followed by medical and prostheses assistances.
Health Minister Nicola Roxon used the opportunity to suggest that Australia will easily adjust to the government's proposed income-testing of the private health insurance rebate.
"We don't believe that by introducing a means test at the top end of income rates that you'll see any significant dropping of private health insurance," she told The World Today.