Media releases

February 23, 2007

Volatile health insurance price hikes need to stop

Healthcare costs are rising at close to double the cost of living and are driving up private health insurance premiums.

As a result of these cost pressures Medibank Private today confirmed that premiums will rise by an average of 4.94%, or an average of around $1.05 per week for a single membership.

This is the third year in a row that Medibank Private has lowered the growth rate of premiums.

Medibank Private Managing Director, George Savvides made the point that as long as healthcare costs continue to rise at around double the rate of inflation there will be pressure on health insurance premiums.

"But the reality is that premiums have increased at a lower rate than the increase in claims paid on behalf of our members," he added.

"Our job is to take pressure off the rate of growth, we've been able to slow it down for the third consecutive year and we want this trend to continue.

"Private health insurance consumers have had to contend with fluctuating premiums for far too long, which makes it difficult for them to budget.

"Extreme price hikes that lead to premiums jumping up and down like a yo-yo, from two to ten per cent and higher from one year to another do not benefit members and are not good for the industry.

"We have to look at the bigger picture and manage fair and sustainable premium growth for our members," Mr Savvides said.

According to Mr Savvides providing reliability around the price of private health cover is as important for private health fund members as the protection and choice the insurance itself brings.

Mr Savvides went on to say, "If we expect Australians to choose and maintain their private health insurance they have to be able to manage the cost, so we have to make it easier for people to budget into the future.

"This is why, in Medibank Private's opinion, the extreme fluctuation in premiums has to stop," he said.

Good news for Medibank Private single parent members is that the health fund has introduced a reduced rate for single parent members, which means the majority of single parent Medibank Private members will receive an effective rate decrease in 2007 - a total of approximately 20,000 families.

AVERAGE WEEKLY INCREASES FOR SINGLE COVER (with 30% Rebate):

NAT.VICQLDSA NSW/ACTTASWANT
AVERAGE $1.05$1.13$1.23$0.94 $0.94$1.11$0.96$0.75
The premium changes will take effect on 02 April, 2007, and all members will receive letters notifying them of their rate change from early March.

Medibank Private continues to be the market leader experiencing more membership growth than the other top five funds combined in the 12 months to December 2006, holding a market share of 28.7%.


Ends


For further information, please contact:
Libby Woolnough - Medibank Private
PH: 03) 8622 5181 / 0411 659 060


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