5AA Mornings program interview with Dr Rachel David regarding changes to private health insurance categories

Station: 5AA
Program: Mornings
Date: 25/6/2019
Time: 10:36 AM
Compere: Leon Byner
Interviewee: Dr Rachel David, CEO, Private Healthcare Australia


LEON BYNER: Now yesterday, we talked about private health insurance and as you well know, 1 July, there’s quite a few changes. We’ve got all this different coloured categories: Gold, Silver, Bronze, and we spoke to the Grattan Institute’s Stephen Duckett and he made the point that there would be a lot of people who would go for paying- for example, if they want to the hospital for a procedure, that in order to get insurance at a premium that they can afford, that they would probably go for a payment, of say, an excess payment of say, $1500 before their insurance would cut in. There was also – and it’s a very strong perception – that some of the things that you were insured for- by the way, the prices will of course increase shortly, may be in a different category or you won’t quite get the coverage you thought you would.

We were contacted yesterday by the private health people, and of course, you know the way we work – we give everybody an opportunity to have their say. So we’ve invited on this morning Dr Rachel David from the Private Healthcare Australia organisation.

Rachel, good morning. What’s the message you want to give people?

RACHEL DAVID: Well, look, I wanted to perhaps correct some of the misconceptions that are out there about the excess and there was a lot of press yesterday coming from the print media and a story that suggested that so many people would take out an excess of $1500, it would pressure on public hospitals. So, it was clear there was a bit of a misunderstanding around what we’ve actually done in the private health insurance reform. There is a new excess limit, a maximum excess, of $1500 which only a family can take out as a policy and it is the maximum.
LEON BYNER: So you’re saying…let me get this right. I want to walk through this with you to make sure that we understand exactly what you’re saying.
LEON BYNER: Now, this $1500 could only be paid by a family insurance contribution, right?
RACHEL DAVID: That’s right, for family policy.
RACHEL DAVID: So the maximum excess for a single person is actually $750.
RACHEL DAVID: But there are policies with lower excesses that you can purchase, so for a single and a family. So, the suggestion that was made in the press that this would create an unusual burden on public hospitals is not …diagnosed with cancer…
RACHEL DAVID: …Bronze would cover you but it’s really a product that’s designed for people who are generally in pretty good health but they want to be covered for unexpected circumstances.
LEON BYNER: (audio incomplete) ……Let’s move to Silver.
RACHEL DAVID: Alright. So Silver covers you for a few more things including some more common conditions which can still be unexpected like heart disease and heart complaints.
RACHEL DAVID: And then Gold is your top hospital cover. So that covers you for some other things like obstetrics and joint replacements and things where people are taking out insurance for the purpose of actually receiving those treatments in a timely fashion.
LEON BYNER: Alright. So, what does Gold cover you for?
RACHEL DAVID: So Gold is your top hospital cover, which includes things like cataract surgery, joint replacement and obstetrics, and these are by and large things where people know they’re going to made them in advance and they’re taking out a top-level of health cover so they can get their treatment on time and with a doctor who’s fully trained and fully responsible for your care.
LEON BYNER: Now, let’s say you’re 50, 60 or whatever and you’re not going to want obstetrics, you’re still paying for that, aren’t you?
RACHEL DAVID: You are, but the difference if you weren’t paying for it on the new Gold is not going to be very much money. So, the categories have been very carefully worked out according to the risk that people are going to seek treatment and seek treatment at a high level versus what the price is going to be.
LEON BYNER: Rachel, if people have got queries about their particular insurance and want a specific question answered, would your expectation be that if they talk to their health fund or one that they are considering, they would ask them directly?
RACHEL DAVID: That’s right. But also, if people want an independent source of advice, there is an upgraded government website to help them compare products and get more information about the funds. So, a good starting point can be to go to privatehealth.gov.au, which can give you an independent source of advice. It might point in the right direction or towards a health fund that’s going to meet your needs.
LEON BYNER: Alright. Dr Rachel David, thank you for calling in this morning. Getting some clarification on matters of private health, which change next Monday.
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