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PRIVATE HEALTH INSURERS BACKFLIP ON COVID-19 REFUND

Private health insurers have this week revealed a stunning backflip on their commitment to provide refunds to customers who have been unable to access a wide range of services under their policies due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Following the announcement of elective surgery bans earlier this year, the insurers made a commitment to ensure they weren’t unduly profiting from the crisis, with PHA CEO Rachel David quoted in the Australian Financial Review on April 8 as saying “if members are getting less for their money – we will address it”.

Fast forward two months, and NIB CEO Mark Fitzgibbon has said that any premium relief looks unlikely, due to the crisis peaking earlier than expected.

“Reduced hospital and ancillary activity did occur in April and into May but quickly recovered and in recent weeks we’ve seen claiming return to normal levels,” said Mr Fitzgibbon this week.

Health workers and industry players across the country, from frontline workers, to researchers and manufacturers have pulled out all the stops in recent months to help fight COVID-19.

“The entire healthcare system has pulled together in an unprecedented effort to support the Australian community through the pandemic, under the strain of enormous cost pressures,” said Ian Burgess, Medical Technology of Australia (MTAA) CEO.

“A significant number of MedTech companies have suffered reductions in revenue of up to 90% as a result of the elective surgery ban.

“This is further compounded by an increase of freight costs of up to 500% and a fall in the Aussie dollar.

“It’s time for the private health insurers to do their bit, rather than just pocketing profits off the back of a global health and economic crisis,” Mr Burgess said.

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