Private health insurance: how to avoid waiting times in public hospitals
Despite the rising cost of private health insurance, Australians panicked by the ever-increasing wait times in public hospitals have made a surprise decision.
Longer waiting times in public hospitals have led to a sharp increase in the number of Australians purchasing private health insurance premiums.
Despite the cost of most premiums rising nearly 3% in October, which normally results in lower private insurance memberships, the latest figures released by the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) show that around 35 000 Australians bought new hospital insurance policies in December. .
Private Health Care Australia believes the increase is linked to Covid and concern over an explosion in wait times at public hospitals, caused by the ban on pandemic surgery as public hospitals struggle to overcome the backlog.
More than 95,000 people are currently on the public waiting list for elective surgery in New South Wales and Victoria’s backlog is expected to take up to two years to clear.
PRIVATE WAITING “WEEKS AT LEAST”
According to Bupa Health Insurance CEO Ms Emily Amos, the wait time for elective surgery in the private system is minimal in comparison.
“We are seeing private hospitals working hard to clear elective surgery backlogs with wait times now at pre-COVID levels,” she said.
“The exact wait times vary between states and hospitals and depend on physician availability, but generally a private patient will have immediate access to treatment or will only wait a few weeks at most.”
APRA statistics also show that in the last three months of 2020, insurers paid benefits for 2.81 million days of hospitalization.
Ms Amos believes those numbers will increase as COVID vaccines are rolled out and consumer confidence increases.
However, with the cost of private health insurance set to rise 2.74% on April 1, costing the average family an additional $ 127 per year – the second increase in just six months – other experts fear. that Australians ditch their policies to cut bills, putting more pressure on the public system.
RELATED: Why Do Health Insurers Have Wait Times?
PUBLIC VERSUS PRIVATE
Private Healthcare Australia CEO Dr Rachel David believes health insurance is essential for maintaining the balance between private and public health systems and for providing people with the treatment they need when they need it.
Affordability is an issue throughout the health system, but with estimated wait times in the public system likely to exceed 1.5 years for routine elective procedures, the value of private health insurance has fallen. never been so big, ”she said.
“The importance of our private and public mixed health system has been clearly demonstrated during the COVID-19 pandemic. This showed our ability to deliver additional surge capacity while maintaining high quality and providing a vital safety net for Australian governments as they navigate the response. “
Dr David also highlighted that the price increase set for April is the smallest in 20 years and urged Australians concerned about this and affordability to continue to contact their supplier before canceling.
“Health funds are committed to taking care of their members, so if you are facing financial hardship due to COVID-19, contact your health fund to discuss your options,” she said.
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