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    Insurance rates rise - daily telegraph article

    Medibank Private's Managing Director, Mark Burrowes, said that reports in today's press of an average three per cent premium increase across the private health insurance industry are a disgrace. This is simply not true as funds that did not increase their premiums were not included in the calculation.

    Mr Burrowes said that in March, when most other funds were increasing their premiums, Medibank Private was able to deliver a zero premium increase for all two million members and all products all year.

    "Some Medibank Private members have had no rate increases at all since September 1998, and with the Federal Government 30% Rebate this means that premiums are back to 1991 levels," Mr Burrowes said.

    "Medibank Private's financial position is strong enough to deliver a zero premium increase while delivering an additional benefit with the $35 million GapCover initiative. GapCover provides our members with the security of no or known out-of-pocket costs for medical services provided in hospital and at no extra cost to our members.

    "For Medibank Private's two million members rates remain among the lowest in the private health insurance industry - in many cases significantly lower, particularly compared with our major competitors.

    "The implication that premiums may increase further during the year is misleading. In 1998, Medibank Private agreed with a Government initiative aimed at providing greater certainty for consumers about the cost of private health insurance, to a once a year only premium adjustment. We announced there would be no change this year when other funds increased their premiums.

    "For funds to be increasing premiums despite the positive impact of the Government's initiatives with the 30% rebate and Lifetime Health Cover is alarming. I would urge members of other health funds, and people looking to join a health fund, to examine the advantages offered by Medibank Private on service, product and particularly price," Mr Burrowes said.