More Australians are said to be members of health funds than any time in the past 37 years, with federal health minister Tanya Plibersek stating that Tony Abbott's predictions about people abandoning private health insurance were wrong.
Ms Plibersek said the first quarter of health fund figures reveal a 'surge' in new members, which take into account membership numbers since the means-tested private health insurance rebate was introduced by the government.
The total number of Australians with hospital cover rose to almost 10.7 million – 47.6 per cent of the population – in the September quarter, which started the same day as means-testing.
The Private Health Insurance Administration Council (PHIAC) released figures today (November 19) that showed as at September 30 2012 the number of people covered by private hospital treatment increased by 3.1 per cent in a year (317,860 extra people).
This counters figures announced by the opposition leader on February 14, with Tony Abbott telling the House of Representatives: "… about six million Australians will downgrade or abandon their private health insurance as a result of this means test."
Means-testing of the private health insurance rebate has meant that Australians with low and middle income no longer subsidise health insurance for Australians with higher incomes.