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Health funds call for urgent reform after government caps price hikes

In light of the decades-low premium increases, Medibank chief customer officer David Koczkar said there had “never been a more urgent time” for industry reform.

“We must do more to reduce and eliminate unnecessary costs in the health system,” Mr Koczkar said.

“This includes reducing procedures that have no effect, cause harm or are not worth their cost, shifting to more out-of-hospital care, addressing out-of-pocket costs and delivering further prostheses reform.”

Medibank, the country’s largest private heath insurer and which paid $5.4 billion in benefits last year, was doing its part to improve affordability through a five-year, $90 million cost saving drive, Mr Koczkar.

Mark Fitzgibbon, managing director of nib, said that he was mindful of growing consumer concerns around affordability and value.

“Still, the reality for both private health insurance, and the healthcare industry as a whole including government who fund the lion’s share of our nation’s healthcare, is that the cost and frequency of medical treatment is rising,” he said.

“While this means consumers are receiving the treatment they need… it does place pressure on claims’ costs.”

Health fund lobby group Private Healthcare Australia’s chief executive Rachel David said 88 per cent of insurer premium increases over the past 10 years was driven by claims cost growth.

The funds have been pushing for reform to lower how much they pay for medical devices and want to make insurance more attractive by being able to pay for members’ medical costs outside of hospital, such as longer GP appointments and “hospital in the home” treatments.

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