Have you ever had a negative experience with a private health insurer? Based on the number of complaints that the Private Health Insurance Ombudsman received in 2014-15 (4,265), you may well have been angered because of something that your insurer did. If you're looking to change insurer, comparing the most appropriate plans for you could be a challenge without the help of the specialist brokers at HICA.
However, that choice could be limited (or removed), if some chief commentators on the healthcare situation in Australia have their way. In the current system, there are a number of separate insurers that offer virtually the same thing, but with varying levels of cover and different exclusions. The premiums are also different from insurer to insurer, which is based on the benefits you get with your policy. If Australia gets rid of that system, and replaces it with a single health insurer available to everyone, what could happen to the nation's healthcare?
What could happen if the private system was abolished?
Public hospitals would immediately suffer and the health budget would be set back a number of years.
Dr Rachel David, the chief executive of Private Healthcare Australia, believes that if private cover was removed from the market, the public hospitals would immediately suffer and the health budget would be set back a number of years – falling into heavy debt.
"More than 13.5 million Australians have some form of private health insurance and almost half of them have an annual disposable income of less than $50,000," she commented in a Guardian Australia article from November 19.
"They value their private health insurance and right to choose where and when they have medical care, as well as a fully-trained health professional to be responsible for their care."
There is an argument that the private health insurance system costs the government too much money – between $5 billion and $7 billion annually. However, Dr David cited a review of the Australian Taxation Office in 2013-14 which showed the government subsidy only amounted to $3.7 billion.
Why does the Australian system need to change?
The Australian private health insurance sector accounts for most of the dental care, inpatient mental health care and non-emergency surgery – more so than any government-funded operations. However, some believe there is still too much grey area.
"While we believe that in many ways Australia has a world-class health system, there are several areas of waste and inefficiency which flow through to consumers and ultimately increase the cost of insurance premiums," said a Bupa spokesperson to The Guardian.
What do you think about the current private health insurance system in Australia? If you've been thinking about changing policies for a while, now might be a great time. Get in touch with the team at HICA for more information and a free consultation.