6PR Breakfast program interview with Dr Rachel David on private health plans to cover kids up to age 30

Station: 6PR
Program: Breakfast
Date: 21/05/2020
Time: 7:19 AM
Compere: Steve Mills and Basil Zempilas
Interviewee: Dr Rachel David, CEO, Private Healthcare Australia


STEVE MILLS: The Government is considering a proposal to allow youngest Aussies to stay on their private health cover of their families until their age to 30. Now at the moment, they can stay on there until they’re 25, providing they’re not working full time and earning over an X number of dollars.

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

RACHEL DAVID: Morning, guys.
STEVE MILLS: Obviously with COVID-19, maybe kids losing their jobs, youth unemployment high, et cetera; would you support 30?
RACHEL DAVID: Yeah. Look, on balance, we support this proposal. People in their 20s have really been smashed by the current economic circumstances, and we know anecdotally quite a few moved back with Mum and Dad. It’s a bit of a myth also that people in this age group don’t claim on their private health insurance. In fact, the biggest reason people in their 20’s use it is for admission to hospital for mental health, and that’s in fact the majority of those hospital admissions are provided in the private sector. So we think it’s a reasonable proposal.
STEVE MILLS: That’s a very good point. At the moment, the way the legislation stands, is once a child reaches- not a child, once a young adult reaches the age of 25, they can’t be included on a family policy, is that correct?
RACHEL DAVID: That’s right.
STEVE MILLS: And if they’re earning in excess of what amount of money at the moment, even prior to 25, they can’t be on the policy?
RACHEL DAVID: Look, I’m not sure exactly, but it does kick in at a certain amount. And- I think we also need to look at really what happens. The trouble is that if people drop it when they leave the family home and they forget to take it out again before they turn 30, it then starts to become very expensive because the price of the premium starts to increase based on your age. So unless you’ve taken it out early, and that five-year gap between 25 and 30 can be a problem for people, because if they hit their late 30s and they’re start to think about a family and possibly the need for children, to have medical treatment and so forth, it’s very precipitous to get into the private market at that point.
STEVE MILLS: I have used health insurance all my life, and I’m a firm believer that I’m well in front, and I’m trying to convince my kids once they got to the age of 25 that they needed to continue. And I think the best lesson, you actually mentioned, Rachel, once they see one of their mates who undergoes extensive hospitalisation for a particular issue, and you explain to them this is how much it would have cost, and you show them the bill, which could in some cases in excess of $30,000 and they paid zero. I said that’s your selling point, and I often wonder why the health funds don’t actually go down that line and be more direct to that market.
RACHEL DAVID: Look, I think we do have some work to do there. I mean, the Medicare system is great, and young people do feel that they’re invulnerable, but Medicare has a lot of inbuilt limitations in it. It’s not free- it’s not a free for [indistinct] everything for everyone, and particularly things like mental health services and rehabilitation for sporting injuries are not things that and provided in public hospitals, unless you’re very, very seriously ill or you’re prepared to wait a long time.
STEVE MILLS: Right. Okay. Well if the Government like it and the Healthcare Australia reckon it’s okay, it might actually get up. We appreciate your time this morning, Rachel.
RACHEL DAVID: Cheers. Thanks.
STEVE MILLS: Good on you. Rachel David there, CEO of Private Healthcare Australia. Look, I can’t emphasise enough what she just said about mental health. I’ve known lots of families that have had someone in that demographic that have spent months in a health facility, and it’s cost them thousands and thousands but if they’d had health insurance. And the good thing about it is that if you’ve got someone who’s got a mental health condition and they had to be hospitalised, there’s no waiting period for the majority that.
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