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    Australia's biggest continues to surge

    The March quarter private health insurance figures released yesterday by the Private Health Insurance Administration Council (PHIAC) show that of the 76,750 net increase in private health memberships in the January-March 2000 period, 37.6% joined Medibank Private - Australia's largest and only national fund.

    Commenting on the figures, Medibank Private's Managing Director, Mark Burrowes said Australians have sought detailed information on private health insurance in unprecedented numbers since the beginning of the year, spurred on by Lifetime Health Cover and implementation of the Federal Government's 30 % rebate. "

    The figures confirm an outstanding performance by Medibank Private and show the Federal Government's Lifetime Health Cover initiative has been highly effective in attracting members of all ages.

    Some 39.2% of the net increase in people covered by Medibank Private hospital products, are under 30 years of age.

    "While we have been steadily building our membership over five consecutive quarters, the last quarter's increase has been dramatic. Our dominant market share grew by 0.2% to 27.3% and the industry has grown significantly - with approximately 32.2 % of the Australian population now holding a private health insurance product.

    In March last year 30.3 % of the population were privately insured.

    Medibank Private has exceeded all previous records for membership growth with 37.6 % of new members having chosen Medibank Private over other funds.

    "The March quarter 2000 saw a 117 % increase in net memberships compared to the March 1999 quarter. Medibank Private continues to get bigger, better and stronger."

    Mr Burrowes said Medibank Private continues to outperform all competitors - exceeding its market share. He attributed the strong performance to a combination of the Government 30% Rebate, Lifetime Health Cover, value for money product offerings, a series of prominent campaigns and the advantage of Medibank Private's strength and experience inherent in its unchallenged position as number one in Australia.

    "We are now in the final race to the end of the grace period before the Federal Government's Lifetime Health Cover initiative on 1 July. We're gearing up for a further increase in response to our communications.

    "People still trying to decide which fund to join and which cover to take can obtain more information on our competitive product offering by visiting a Medibank Private retail centre, now operating with extended trading hours.

    "Alternatively they can go to any Medibank Private agency or kiosk or call our new member hotline on 1300 986 774 or visit our website and join on-line," Mr Burrowes said.