NEW rules are set to make private health insurance easier to understand.
Announced last week by Health Minister Greg Hunt, the reforms will introduce a four-tier classification system designed to make comparisons easier.
From April 2019 all new policies will be classified as Basic, Bronze, Silver or Gold based on their level of cover.
Existing policies will be categorised by April 2020, and customers will not need to change their policy if they are happy.
“The new product tiers have minimum and standard clinical categories, which mean consumers can easily identify the services covered, or excluded, by their policies,” Mr Hunt said.
The Basic and Bronze levels are more affordable options while Silver and Gold provide more comprehensive cover.
Insurers can also add additional cover to those listed as the minimum requirements for Basic, Bronze and Silver policies by offering Plus products.
The government is already hailing the changes as a win for Australians, particularly those living in rural and remote areas as insurers can now offer travel and accommodation support in their cover.
Women are also set to benefit, with guaranteed cover for gynecological services, ovarian and breast cancer treatments for Bronze tiers and above.
Lower premium prices and higher excesses will also be an option for policy holders.
Insurers must also improve the information they provide to consumers. A new Private Health Information Statement will include mandatory information about what each policy covers.
All products will be included on the enhanced www.privatehealth.gov.au website.
Key elements “delayed”
Shadow Health Minister Catherine King has accused Mr Hunt of lagging on his key policy changes.
She said the new rules allow insurers an extra 12 months to implement the new product categories, but they were meant to be in place by April 2019.
“Over recent weeks it has become clear that these changes will leave many people disadvantaged, either through higher premiums or poorer coverage,” Ms King said.
“As a result, these changes are likely to accelerate the private health insurance exodus that is putting the entire industry at risk.
“A one year delay won’t change that – it will simply push these changes beyond the next election.”
For more information on the reforms CLICK HERE
- Read more: Older people hit hardest by health insurance rises
- Read more: Health insurance double whammy