Private Health Insurance

13 May 2020

Senator GRIFF (South Australia) (15:42): I move:

That the Senate—

(a) acknowledges that:

   (i) many private health insurance customers have not had access to elective surgery or extras during the COVID-19 pandemic,

   (ii) private health insurance companies have made large profits during this period due to the reduction in claims as policy holders continue to pay their insurance premiums, and

   (iii) many Australians are experiencing difficulties in attempting to negotiate reductions in premiums or fee cover with their health insurance company until they are able to visit their practitioners again;

(b) notes research published by the Australia Institute which indicates that:

   (i) as a consequence of Commonwealth and State use of private hospitals during the COVID-19 pandemic, combined with social distancing measures, benefits claimed by people insured by Australia's private health insurers could fall by an estimated 30% to 50%, resulting in a windfall to private health insurers of between $3.5bn and $5.5bn over a six-month period, and

   (ii) if premiums were reduced in line with reduced services, the Federal Government would also save approximately $1bn to $1.5bn a year in its Public Health Insurance Rebate Subsidy;

(c) recognises that whilst many private health funds are delaying premium hikes that were planned for April, insurers should also return "savings" to customers at this difficult time;

(d) commends those private health insurers that have passed savings on to policy holders during the COVID-19 pandemic; and

(e) calls on the Federal Government to direct the Productivity Commission to undertake an urgent review of the likely reduction in private health insurance fund payments and implement any recommendations. (general business notice of motion no.532)

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