Launching the report in Canberra on Thursday, AMA President, Dr Tony Bartone, warned that the private health insurance sector in Australia is on the precipice.
Dr Bartone said that the Government, the insurers, and all stakeholders must work together to make private health insurance more attractive for more Australians, especially younger people.
“With more than sixty percent of elective surgery in Australia occurring in the private sector, the prospect of greater stress and demand being placed on the already overstretched public hospital system is looming large unless the drift away from private health insurance is stopped,” Dr Bartone said.
“Australians need and demand private health policies that are affordable, transparent, good value, and appropriate for their individual or family circumstances, or they will walk away from private health insurance altogether.
“An increasing number of younger and healthy Australians are opting out of private health insurance.
“This is leaving a higher proportion of older patients who are increasingly more likely to be suffering from illness or chronic disease and, as a result, they are more expensive to insure, further driving up premiums. This trend is not sustainable.
“We are still seeing increases in premiums averaging 3 to 5 per cent a year, when wages growth is firmly stuck at around 2 per cent.
“Sooner or later, the number of people with private health insurance will fall further – and dramatically.”
“We need to work to bring back the value in insurance policies, before it is too late.”
Shadow Health Minister Chris Bowen echoed concerns about the value of private health insurance policies.
“The AMA’s report card on PHI comes only 24 hours after calls from CHOICE for the Government to review Private Health Insurance after their updated analysis confirmed that consumers aren’t getting value for money when it comes to their health insurance,” said Mr Bowen.
“Earlier this week the Private Health Industry called to privatise access to general practitioners and other services, which would be a dangerous step towards Americanising our health care system,” Mr Bowen said.
The medical devices industry was the sole contributor to lower private health insurance premium increases both in 2017 and in 2018. The Medical Technology Association of Australia’s Agreement with the Government is on track to exceed $1.1 billion in expected savings.
“Access to a full range of medical technology is one of the key benefits of having private health insurance and we’re committed to helping ensure all Australians lead healthier and more productive lives,” said MTAA CEO Ian Burgess.