Medibank charges point to need for health fund reform
The allegations made by the ACCC against Medibank Private highlight the urgent need for reforms to make health insurance simpler, transparent and more certain for consumers.
“These allegations follow widespread reports and complaints about the failure of Australia’s biggest health fund to alert members that they were cutting the benefits they would pay for inhospital pathology and radiology services,” the CEO of the Consumers Health Forum, Leanne Wells, said.
“People found themselves billed hundreds of dollars in out of pocket costs they were not expecting.
“Obviously the court still has to make its findings regarding the allegations against Medibank of misleading and unconscionable conduct.
“We at the Consumers Health Forum have proposed to the Federal Government reforms which would require health funds to provide policies which are comprehensive and dependable and make it much easier for consumers to compare policies of different funds when choosing which policy to take.
“The Government’s plans for health insurance reform announced at the weekend are a good start but we need to provide an effective incentive for funds to provide genuine, consumerfriendly policy documents that people can understand and rely on.
“The reforms should also require transparent and upfront disclosure of the total costs consumers will bear for a treatment or procedure.
“If health fund policies fail to meet these criteria, they should not qualify for the health insurance rebate, under the reform Consumer Health Forum has put to Government.
“The widespread frustration so many people now experience with health insurance raise big questions about why taxpayers are subsidising health insurance to the tune of $6 billion a year for the rebate. “It’s time for the rebate to be used to drive policies that meet the reasonable needs of consumers,” Ms Wells said.