Private health insurance reform must support equitable, accessible healthcare

Friday, December 4, 2015

The Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA) has urged the Commonwealth Government to ensure any changes to private health insurance arrangements lead to improved health outcomes and benefit the entire community.

In its submission to the Department of Health’s Private Health Insurance Consultations, the AHHA said the review process needed to ensure the result supported the equity, accessibility and sustainability of the broader Australian health system to benefit the whole community.

“The review of private health insurance is a complex and important task, and we welcome the opportunity to support its work,” AHHA Chief Executive Alison Verhoeven said.

“Our list of recommendations in our submission include a call for simpler products, better communication, the removal or better application of the Private Health Insurance Rebate, policies which meet consumer need, better business practices and equity and accessibility assurance for the non-insured.”

The AHHA has also recommended any savings from the abolition or scaling back of the Private Health Insurance Rebate be redirected to public health system funding, including broadening the list of items covered by the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS).

“The MBS should include items to support access to health services such as dentistry, optometry, physiotherapy and psychology as part of bundled health packages now under consideration in the ongoing review of primary health care,” Ms Verhoeven said.

“With multiple reviews underway across the health sector currently, responses will need to be coordinated to ensure the best outcomes for patients.”

Private health insurance providers should also be required to offer policies for rural and remote consumers that include coverage for transportation and accommodation in metropolitan centres, when necessary treatments are not available in their own region.

The AHHA has also called for the Commonwealth Government to urgently review the prosthesis listing process, as well as investigate the allegations received by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission regarding anti-competitive and ethically questionable rebating arrangements.

“We hope the Government takes into consideration the recommendations we have made in our submission as they continue their review,” Ms Verhoeven said.

“We are thankful for the opportunity to contribute to the process of developing a 21st-century health system built on sustainability, equity and accessibility for all Australians.”

View the full submission here.

Media enquiries:

Alison Verhoeven

Chief Executive, The Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association

0403 282 501