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    New memberships remain buoyant

    DESPITE the extension of the Lifetime Health Cover (LHC) deadline, new members continue to join Australia's largest and only national health fund - Medibank Private - in their droves.

    The week 2-8 July saw a very sizeable 55,545 new memberships - a figure which equates to over 117,677 additional people now covered by Medibank Private. While last week's figure is well down on the week prior when a record 86,374 joined the fund, it indicates that interest in private health insurance remains high during the extension to 15 July.

    Of the new joins, there were 16,765 from NSW, 16,136 from Vic, 12,662 from Queensland, 3,544 from SA, 3041 from WA, 1,509 from ACT, 1,228 from Tas and 660 from NT.

    Total Medibank Private membership now stands at 1,224,631 with some 2,525,168 persons now covered nationwide.

    Medibank Private managing director, Mark Burrowes, says what has been significant about the new member joins in latter part of June and early July is the trend to stand-alone hospital policies.

    "By way of example in the first week of June only 242 of our less expensive hospital-only policies - 'First Choice Saver 3' - were sold compared with 14,993 in the first week of July. What we deduce from this is that people are simply selecting the cheapest hospital policy in order to lock themselves into LHC.

    "What we're also fully expecting is that these people will give careful thought to their requirements over the next few months and swap over to packaged products or products which provide them with both hospital and extras cover.

    "Basically, people are maximising on some breathing space to establish what's best for them and their families."