Today activist organisation Choice has issued a media release wrongly claiming that health funds have failed Australians during COVID-19, despite the private health insurance industry returning more than half a billion dollars in savings to our customers so far.
Below is our response.
Medibank CEO Craig Drummond said:
“Choice is conveniently ignoring the facts and confusing consumers at a time of great uncertainty – this is just a publicity stunt from them.
“We know people are doing it tough, and that’s why we stick by our promise to return any savings, in addition to our $180 million support package already committed, straight back to the people who matter most, our customers.
“On top of postponing premiums for 6 months, we have chosen to support our customers and community in additional ways. This includes a hardship program to help customers doing it tough including a 50% premium discount for 6 months for those doing it hardest, which is valued at around $800 per policy. In all, our response exceeds $180 million so far, including rolling over most annual extras limits for our ahm customers.
“It is true we saw a decrease in claims over the six weeks, particularly in extras. Hospital claims also fell, although many elective surgeries were unaffected by the government’s restrictions. In total, claims were around 50% of normal levels for a short period. But since then, claims have bounced back to normal or above-normal levels. The industry regulator APRA recognises this ‘catch up’ and has told insurers to expect the majority – if not all – of surgeries and extras services disrupted through COVID-19 to ultimately take place.
“Australians are living with enormous uncertainty and health is more important than ever. Medibank stands with our customers and community and we will continue to support the public health response like we have from the start.
“We determined right from the beginning that our customers would not be financially disadvantaged by the changes that have had to happen during COVID.”
Here is the overview of what we've done for our customers.
• Medibank and ahm customers in severe financial distress are able to access a 50% discount on their premiums for up to 6 months, or further suspend their policy for up to 3 months.
• Financial hardship information for Medibank customers
• Financial hardship information for ahm customers
• Postponed premium increases to 1 October 2020.
• Extended extras to include telehealth services for 7 allied health services such as psychology and physiotherapy.
• Paid benefits towards chest, heart, lung and kidney hospital admissions, including those related to COVID-19, regardless of an existing customer’s level of hospital cover – benefiting 1 million Medibank and ahm customers.
• Launched COVID-19 Health Assist, a program of customised health and wellbeing support for customers, including the most vulnerable.
• Introduced Live Better at Home to give all Australians access to a free online program of work out videos, cooking demonstrations and guided meditations, and partnered with Smiling Mind on a program to help foster positive mental health habits among Australian families.
• Donated $5 million to Beyond Blue for its new COVID-19 mental wellbeing and support service.
• Extended access to Medibank’s 24/7 nurse and mental health lines.
• ahm rolled over any unused extras annual limits, excluding optical and non-annual limits, valued at around $10 million, into the following year.
• Provided 400 nurses to run the national COVID line.
• With a team of more than 1,300 health professionals, we are supporting the Victorian Government’s COVID-19 response.