Interview on ABC Sydney with Robbie Buck
Transcript of Minister for Health, Greg Hunt's interview on ABC Sydney with Robbie Buck regarding making private health insurance more affordable and simpler to understand.
The Hon Greg Hunt MP
Minister for Health
13 October 2017
Topics: Making private health insurance more affordable and simpler to understand
Greg Hunt is the Federal Minister for Health and joins us this morning. Good morning.
Good morning, Robbie
Okay. Take us through what these changes are and I guess the background behind it, too.
Well, the important thing is that these changes are about making private health insurance easier to understand and more affordable.
In particular, we’ll be offering discounts of up to 10 per cent for young people, we know that many young people desperately want to have private health insurance, but it’s just been beyond their reach, improved coverage for mental health, and then overall reducing the pressure on premiums by taking the costs out of the premiums.
Real reform which will mean a difference to people in their own private health insurance and the ability to get better coverage for things such as mental health and in particular for rural and regional residents.
Okay, well let’s go through these. If you’re under 30 then you’re going to be given a sweetener, it’s going to be cheaper for you to sign up for private health insurance …
What about 2 per cent cheaper? That’s right.
Well no, up to 10 per cent cheaper. So, for every year that you are below 30, you get a reduction of 2 per cent in your premiums, up to a maximum of 10 per cent and you’ll hold that discount for right through until you’re 40 at which point it will phase out.
So, that’s a huge incentive for young people to come in early. In addition to that, at the moment there’s a waiting period before you would qualify for mental health coverage if you want to upgrade your cover.
Now, you’ll be able to get that without any waiting period. And for people across every part of society, mental health is such a challenge and this is a major reform in terms of mental health coverage.
Alright. So, you turn up to a hospital and you don’t have coverage for mental health in your private insurance, what’s the change going to be? You’re going to be automatically upgraded are you?
Well, if you choose to upgrade, you’ll be able to do it immediately on the spot. And that will give you better coverage and better treatment for mental health.
An extremely important thing, as I say for so many people, and an item which in the in the area of young people, will be very important to how they approach private health insurance and their own general health.
We have the Federal Minister for Health Greg Hunt on the phone this morning. This big announcement of a huge shakeup in private health insurance, you’ll no longer be able to claim some of the complimentary applications that we’ve seen in the past, homeopathy, aromatherapy, naturopathy, reflexology, these sorts of things, why those changes?
Well, they’re on the basis of recommendations from the Chief Medical Officer. The private health insurers will still be able to offer them, it’s simply that the Government won’t pay the rebate for Rolfing, for Reiki, for reflexology, for some of those therapies.
But again, it’s the Chief Medical Officer that has made the recommendations. They can still be provided but there won’t be a Government subsidy as part of the rebate.
Okay. And finally, I think for a lot of people who are looking at private health insurance, will have their own policies, it can be very confusing and it can be very difficult to work out exactly where you’re covered and where you’re not covered.
And of course, we’ve heard lots of stories about so-called junk policies, where you think you’re getting covered for certain things and you’re not. How are you going to make it clearer for the consumer when it comes to those areas?
Well, people are absolutely in need of a no surprises approach. So that you don’t find, you’re in hospital and something you thought is covered isn’t covered.
So, we’re introducing a system of gold, silver, bronze and basic policies. And that will include a very clear one pager as to what’s covered and what’s not covered.
That’s something which hasn’t happened in the past, it’s something that will be mandated now and at the end of the day it’s about making private health insurance not only more affordable but much simpler to understand and with a no surprises basis.
That, I think, is what everybody needs so as they know when they select a policy, I’m making a tradeoff on cost versus coverage, or I want the coverage and I’m willing to pay the costs but I absolutely want certainty as to what’s in and what’s out. And people have asked for that, we’re responding to it and now they’ll get that.
Okay well, we’ll see if Australians respond to it by taking up more policies. Federal Health Minister, Greg Hunt, thanks very much for your time this morning.
A real pleasure.