3AW Breakfast program interview with Dr Rachel David on private health plans to cover kids up to age 30

Station: 3AW
Program: Breakfast
Date: 21/05/2020
Time: 7:51 AM
Compere: Ross Stevenson and John Burns
Interviewee: Dr Rachel David, CEO, Private Healthcare Australia


ROSS STEVENSON: The Government’s considering a proposal to allow young Australians to stay on their parents’ private health insurance plans until the age of 30, backed by health funds desperate to slow a fall in membership due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rachel David is the CEO of Private Healthcare Australia. Rachel, good morning to you.

RACHEL DAVID: Morning, Ross.
ROSS STEVENSON: Can- with private health insurance, can you sort of maintain it and then oh crikey, here’s a pandemic, I’ll stop it and when the pandemic’s finished, I’ll start it up again without any penalty?
RACHEL DAVID: Well yes, you can. You can talk to health fund about suspending your premium for a certain amount of time, if you’re in financial hardship but that’s not indefinite. If you are- in fact decide to drop your cover, you will have a 12-month wait period for common procedures if you decide to take it up again. And if you are over 30, that comes with some penalties related to your age.
ROSS STEVENSON: Okay. What’s the magic of the age 30? Are children who live at home with their parents up to the age of 30 covered by their parent’s policy, are they?
RACHEL DAVID: Well they’re not at the moment. So at the moment, it caps out at 25 for family policy. But what we’re finding particularly as a result of the pandemic is people in their 20s have been smashed by this and for a lot of people, I think it’s a bit of a myth that people in that age group actually don’t claim for things like elective surgery. We get a lot of stuff for people with serious injuries that need ongoing treatment including rehabilitation and mental health claims as well in that age group.

So on balance, we are supporting this proposal because the people that are facing record levels of unemployment and a very uncertain future. We think it’s the best way to ensure that they get access to some of those services.

ROSS STEVENSON: Hey, Rachel, what are the current rules? Seriously, I’ve got no idea. When is a child supposed to get off their parents’ private health insurance plan?
RACHEL DAVID: At the moment, it’s age 25 and then after that they need to either take it up on that. But if they wanted, they need to take it up on their own by age 30 otherwise, what happens is the cost starts to go up based on their age.
ROSS STEVENSON: Okay. What’s the difference between a 26-year-old being on their parents’ private health insurance plan or having their own but mum and dad pay for it?
RACHEL DAVID: Well look, it really is a matter for what happens if mum and dad pay for it, it means that they actually get an opportunity to stay on the plan and get access to all of the services that the health funds fund – but the trouble is if they leave home and are not on a reasonable income until after 30, the cost will start to go up because for every year after the age of 30 that you leave it, the cost goes up.
ROSS STEVENSON: Rachel, we thank you very much. Rachel David, CEO of Private Healthcare Australia.
* * END * *