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Concerns about changes to private health insurance

24 June 2013 - 4:32pm

Private Healthcare Australia is requesting that Australians "take action" against the government's proposed changes to the private health insurance rebate system and medicare levy surcharge.

In a recent interview on Breakfast, Michael Armitage, chief executive officer of Private Healthcare Australia, said he was "very concerned" about how these changes would affect those with Australian health insurance.

Mr Armitage was interviewed by Alex Ward and Jane Reilly on June 12, 2013. You can find the full transcript of the interview here.

A total of 54 per cent of Australians currently possess some form of health insurance, so the government's alterations to these systems will have an impact on the majority of the country.

Mr Armitage's major concern is that people might be forced to downgrade their private health cover or give it up completely because they can no longer afford the plan they're on.

"The sad point about that is that they then come onto the public hospital waiting list," he explained.

He said it is all-too-common for people who are healthy one moment to fall unexpectedly ill the next. This is why having health insurance is so important, as you never when you might need medical treatments or services.

Without this insurance, Mr Armitage revealed, people will have to go onto public hospital waiting lists to undergo expensive operations that they cannot afford to pay for out of their own pockets.

He added that, "as people drop out of private health insurance, those people on the public hospital waiting lists are suddenly going to be competing with everyone that drops their insurance".

"This is going to affect everybody," he said.

When asked about how these changes might impact those on fixed incomes, such as pensioners, Mr Armitage said he has seen a recent increase in the number of people who fall into this category who are down-selling.

In other words, they are opting to have inadequate health insurance rather than none at all.

Mr Armitage has encouraged people who want to find out more about these changes and the actions they can take to see them reversed to visit, a site dedicated to "things that people should know about private health insurance".

In addition to this, if you want advice about health insurance or a health insurance comparison, contact HICA today.

We can let you know how these changes might affect you and your health insurance plan, and help you explore your coverage options.