Integrated and coherent health policy should start with the healthcare consumer and their needs. Wider policy must recognise the link between the nation’s overall health status and productivity: an investment in healthcare is an investment in the health of the budget itself.
The Government announced a review into private health insurance on 28 October 2015. In order to help inform the government’s review into private health insurance, the Consumers Health Forum of Australia (CHF) launched the online survey. CHF made its formal submission to the government’s review on 14 December 2015. The findings, discussion, and recommendations in this report should be viewed as a companion to the full submission.
While the challenges facing the health sector are enormous, CHF continues its mission to work collaboratively with health consumers, our members and stakeholders to improve the viability and sustainability of the health system for all health consumers.
The current state of private health insurance in Australia is one prone to fragmentation and offering little value to consumers. Many insurance policies lack adequate coverage for even basic needs, yet consumers feel pressured to take out such policies in order to have some form of coverage. With premiums rising faster than many consumers can reasonably afford, lack of confidence and clarity in the private health insurance market risks stratifying consumers into the haves and have-nots. If left unchecked, this stratification would spell the end to the principles of universal access to health care that is the bedrock of the Australian health system.
CHF is concerned that the link between actual costs incurred and thresholds/rebates would be further weakened by the proposed legislation and this will be to the detriment of consumers.
Consumers and the wider community need to have a better understanding of what Medicare care is. CHF recommends a community awareness programme about Medicare and the MBS. We will get more judicious Medicare outlays when people are more engaged with their healthcare and healthcare choices through a greater appreciation of how much particular programmes and services cost.
Preventive health... a cure for the future