With the new Federal Budget announced, private health insurance consumers are likely looking to see what's in it for them. After all, April's 5.59 per cent premium increase did nothing to help affordability, though many families won't want to renege on their health insurance benefits.
So, what's in this new budget? Well, fortunately, it's hoped that increased funding will help healthcare as a whole. The government has put $17.9 billion into this financial year's coffers for National Health Reform funding, which will raise to $21.1 billion by the end of the decade.
The government will also set up a Private Health Sector Reform Committee, designed to advise on any ways the private health insurance industry can improve.
Making prosthesis more affordable
Another big change will be support for patients with prosthetics – another important decision considering the growing cost of knee and hip replacements, for example.
Prostheses create 14 per cent of a health fund's entire expenditure to hospitals.
According to Medibank, who welcomed the new budget, the Prostheses List Advisory Committee will focus on delivering affordability and quality to Australians in need of prosthetic-related care.
Medibank's Acting CEO, David Koczkar, said prostheses (which include surgically implanted prostheses, human tissue items and other medical devices) create 14 per cent of the health fund's entire expenditure to hospitals.
In the 2014 financial year, that cost came to $1.75 billion, which is one reason why health insurance premiums have been rising.
"Currently, Australians with private health insurance are being forced to pay significantly more than other patients for prostheses devices, and we're pleased the government is serious about addressing this regulatory failure," he began.
"We expect that the committee will advise the government that pricing benchmarks should be introduced so that private patients pay a fair amount for prostheses. This will make it fairer for Australians with private health insurance and the savings will reduce pressure on premiums."
Stemming the health insurance rise
There's a real problem in Australia that people will look at their swelling premiums and opt for the cheapest form of cover. It's often as bad as having no health insurance whatsoever – or worse considering they pay for the luxury.
Quality healthcare is Australia's number-one concern, and a better system will help to deliver higher standards for families around the country.
Mr Koczkar continued: "There is certainly a lot that can be done to improve the affordability of private healthcare, including the value of private health insurance, and we look forward to working with the government to achieve this."
If you need help with balancing health insurance cost with quality, contact HICA and chat to an expert who's on your side.