The Australian Government is introducing changes which aim to make health insurance easier for you to understand. This will help you to make more informed decisions about your cover. Many of the reforms take effect from 1 April 2019, but some will be implemented later in the year. Below is a summary to help you learn more about how these changes might impact you.
Effective from 1 April 2019:
Discounts for young Australians
If you’re aged 18–29, you’ll be eligible for up to 10 per cent off your hospital insurance premiums. This reform is optional for insurers, but all existing and new Bupa domestic members in the age bracket will receive the discount from 1 April 2019. The discount will apply to your hospital cover until you turn 41. From 41 years of age, the discount will reduce by two per cent each year until it reaches zero per cent.
Improved comparison tools
The government will be updating the www.privatehealth.gov.au website so it’s easier for you to compare health insurance products across insurers. The refresh will require all insurers to provide a statement clearly outlining the types of cover and benefits available to you.
Complaint resolution improvements
The Private Health Insurance Ombudsman is recruiting extra resources so they’re better equipped to resolve customer complaints. It will make the resolution process easier for you, should you ever need it.
Changes to natural therapies
The mandatory reform to natural therapies means that all health insurers will no longer be able to pay benefits for certain therapies on ‘extras’ cover. Bupa will continue to pay benefits for acupuncture, Chinese herbalism and massage therapy, including remedial massage, myotherapy and Traditional Chinese Medicine remedial massage.
New excess options
The introduction of a new hospital excess option of $750 will be a good way to help reduce your premium. From 1 April 2019, this $750 excess for singles (or a maximum of $1500 for couples/families) will be available for selected health insurance policies. This also means that if you currently have hospital cover with a $1000 excess, this will be reduced to $750 automatically as part of this reform. So from 1 April 2019, all members who are currently on the $1000 excess hospital covers, and who are currently exempt from the Medicare Levy Surcharge (MLS), will remain exempt from the MLS, after the reduction in excess.
Accessible mental health services
This reform to mental health makes it easier for people with hospital cover to access these services. It means if your current hospital policy has restricted psychiatric or mental health cover, you can upgrade without having to re-serve waiting periods for these services, on a once-off basis.
Effective from 1 July 2019
Clearer product categories and clinical definitions
A major change is the Australian Government’s new classification of hospital products across four tiers, which all health insurers are required to adopt. These tiers are gold, silver, bronze and basic, and there are set minimum hospital services which need to be covered within each product tier.
In addition, all health funds are required to use the same standard clinical definitions when referring to in-hospital treatments for your health cover.
Both these changes mean you’ll have a clearer understanding of what’s covered by your policy when comparing health cover with other health insurers.
More support for rural and regional areas
Getting access to healthcare in rural and regional communities can be a challenge. That’s why Bupa is introducing a travel and accommodation benefit for members who have hospital cover.
This benefit applies to those who need to travel further than 200km in Australia to receive specialist medical and hospital treatment not available in their local community.
For more information about the upcoming Private Health Insurance reforms, visit www.health.gov.au