Members Health Fund Alliance (Members Health) – the peak body for not-for-profit, member-owned, and community-based health funds – continues to grow as Australians see the value of private health insurance (PHI), with young people accounting for a majority of new members.
According to the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority's (APRA) PHI data, the number of people covered by a Members Health fund hospital policy increased by 3.47% over the 12 months to March 2022, more than thrice the pace of the rest of the industry. A majority (more than 100,000) of these new members were under 45-years-old.
However, the latest number of people with a Members Health fund hospital policy was lower than the numbers during the 12 months to December 2021, which jumped by 3.79% compared to only 0.96% for the rest of the industry.
Nevertheless, Members Fund CEO Matthew Koce said it is encouraging to see a growing number of younger people taking out PHI, with over two-thirds of those joining a Members Health fund.
“As states manage the huge demand on their public hospitals, more and more Australians are turning to Members Health funds for the peace of mind they offer,” he said.
Koce noted that PHI plays a key role in helping Australians get well and stay healthy as public elective surgery waiting lists stretch for many months, and sometimes years.
“Australia's unique private and public mix provides choice and is a strength of the health system. More people with private health insurance reinforces the health system overall,” he said. “People with private health cover not only get peace of mind around access to fast and high-quality care, with [their] doctor of choice, [but also help] take pressure off overstretched public hospitals and saving taxpayer dollars.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has weighed heavily on our public health system, and private health insurance acts as a pressure release valve, taking the strain off public hospitals and freeing up beds for those that need them most.”
This year, Members Health commits to making PHI more affordable in Australia. In May, for example, it called on Australian political parties to amend the PHI rebate to improve people's healthcare access and provide real cost of living relief.