Media releases

February 12, 2003

Medibank Private changes to lifestyle ancillary benefits

Australia's largest private health insurer, Medibank Private, will make changes to its Package products as a result of a Federal Government announcement made today.

The Federal Government changes to benefits paid for lifestyle related ancillary products and services were agreed to by the private health insurance industry. Medibank Private will end payment on a limited range of lifestyle products and services that are not part of a health improvement program.

The changes will apply to Medibank Private's suite of four PackagePlus products (PremierPlus, AdvantagePlus, SmartPlus and HealthyPlus) which provide combined hospital and ancillary cover.

Medibank Private Managing Director George Savvides said lifestyle related ancillary benefits had made up only a very small proportion of overall benefits paid by the fund, with no changes planned for the vast majority of non-hospital benefits now paid in the major ancillary areas of dental, optical, physiotherapy and chiropractic.

"Medibank Private agrees that clear guidelines for lifestyle ancillary benefits are needed to ensure that cover for the most appropriate health related services and appliances is available to members," Mr Savvides said.

"Improving health outcomes for members remains paramount."

"Medibank Private is committed to improving health outcomes for members that are at risk and programs that include the management of asthma, diabetes, weight loss, quit smoking and cardiac prevention will remain".

Mr Savvides said Medibank Private would implement this minor restriction on the payment of lifestyle benefits for sport and recreation through its Package products. Affected members would be formally notified regarding the changes.

Changes will apply to the PackageBonus component of Medibank Private's PackagePlus products.

Medibank Private is aware that some members will be disappointed by the restriction of items covered, however:

  • The PackageBonus component of Medibank's package products will remain;

  • The PackageBonus will continue to apply to health related services not normally covered by Medibank Private extras cover.
    "Medibank Private remains focussed on ensuring that benefit payouts made under these products remain intended for health improvement and continue to reflect community sentiment," Mr Savvides said.

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