The ACCC report cities multiple examples where the big corporate insurers have attempted to deny vulnerable Australians access to essential medical treatments, while at the same time raising the price of their premiums.
The report stated that “In 2018-19, private health insurance participants rates continued to decline, while average gap payments for in-hospital and extras treatment increased”.
It also highlighted the fact that “cumulative premium increases have been higher than inflation and wage growth in the past five years, indicating that households with private health insurance are contributing an increasing proportion of their incoming to paying premiums”.
Other industry groups, including the MedTech industry, have slammed the big corporate insurers over their alleged tending ‘policy reform’ as “nothing more than a disturbing attempt to maximise profits over the interests of patients”.
The Medical Technology Association of Australia (MTAA) has said the likes of Medibank, Bupa, NIB and HCF have already undermined consumer confidence in their own products through their “smash and grab” approach to keep their businesses afloat.
The allegation is supported by the ACCC’s instituted proceedings in the Federal Court in May 2017 against NIB where it alleged “it (NIB) contravened the ACL by engaging in misleading or deceptive conduct, unconscionable conduct and making false of misleading representations.” The proceeding arose from NIB’s alleged failure to notify members in advance of its decision to remove certain eye procedures from its ‘MediGap Scheme’ in 2015. Under the MediGap Scheme, members had previously been able to obtain these eye procedures without facing out-of-packet costs when doctors participated in the scheme.
“The Federal Government cannot afford for private health insurers to also now undermine patient confidence in their doctors,” MTAA said in a statement on its website.
Its clear this will not only spell and end to private health insurance as we know it, but irreparable damage to Australia’s healthcare system.