6PR program interview with Ben Harris on the extension of family health cover to children until age 31

Station: 6PR
Program: Perth Live
Date: 4/1/2021
Time: 5:08 PM
Compere: Karl Langdon
Interviewee: Ben Harris, Director of Policy and Research, Private Healthcare Australia


KARL LANGDON: Welcome back to Perth Live, great to have your company. I am about to have a chat to a man by the name of Ben Harris, Director of Research and Policy for Private Healthcare Australia. Welcome Ben.
BEN HARRIS: How are you Karl?
KARL LANGDON: I’m going alright mate, happy New Year to you. Now, you are the Private Healthcare Australia’s industry peak body. What do you feel about people staying under their parent’s health insurance until they’re age 31?
BEN HARRIS: Karl, this is something that we think is a pretty good idea, we know a lot of young people are doing it tough at the moment, and we’ve seen house prices go up, we’re seeing a lot of unemployment, and a lot of people are staying at Uni longer. Now that means, there are a lot of young people between 25 and 30 who are still dependant on their parents. We don’t want these people to be lost to private health insurance, so we think it’s sensible to allow the insurance option of providing a cover for those people under their parent’s policy.
KARL LANGDON: Alright, for those that are maybe unaware, what is the current age where kids can stay under their parent’s policy?
BEN HARRIS: Currently, you can stay on your parent’s policy as long as you’re a dependant, until you are 25. This proposal will change that to 31.
KARL LANGDON: So, essentially, what is the major idea here? Is it really just to save our youngster’s money?
BEN HARRIS: It’ll save young people money, but more importantly it’ll make sure they’re covered for health care. Younger people often can’t see the value in private health insurance because of the cost. If they’re under their parent’s policy, then they will be covered. And we’re seeing young people claiming more and more, particularly for mental health care. Public mental health care is pretty ordinary across Australia, and more than half of the hospitalisations for mental health care are covered by the private sector. So for young people, care is really important.
KARL LANGDON: Yeah, there’s no doubt about that, I agree with you wholeheartedly. But when I talk to a lot of young people, they think they’re bulletproof mate, and they don’t need health care. That’s why they don’t- or don’t want to spend the money on it, even though that they’re out, earning their own money in their own jobs. They’ve left their parents’ nest, so to speak.
BEN HARRIS: Yeah, and look, what we’re seeing at the moment with the pandemic is that a lot of the systems around the country, the public health system, are really struggling. We’re seeing waiting lists of a year, and a year and a half for some things. And while Western Australia’s done pretty well, they’ve still got waiting lists which are significantly greater than they were a year ago. So, unfortunately, the bad news is for young people, if you do need health care in the public system, you’re going to be waiting a long time. While private healthcare means you’ve got that peace of mind, particularly with things like trauma, things like mental health, to be able to get the care you need when you need it.
KARL LANGDON: Is there enough flexibility under the private healthcare insurance policies? I, personally, have rung my provider recently to just explore the opportunity of maybe changing a few of the things that are available to me, and a few of the areas that I don’t utilise to see whether I might be able to push them into something else. Is that flexibility available to us, do you think? Or are we getting better in that area?
BEN HARRIS: I think we are getting better in that area, Karl. And as you say, if you ring your insurance, say, hey, this is where I’m at, this is what I need, they may be able to do something that’s better for you. You should always have a look at your insurance every couple of years to just see where you’re at, and what you might need to change.
KARL LANGDON: For this change to take place for parents to allow their children to remain on a policy until the age of 31, what needs to happen from here?
BEN HARRIS: Well, the first thing is the Government has announced the change, but they’ve got to get the legislation through the parliament, and we’re expecting that to happen before April. And then, if you’ve got a child who’s a dependant- or, an adult child who’s a dependant, ring your health insurer and talk to them about the options.
KARL LANGDON: Okay Ben. So is there anything else that you’d to throw out to my audience this afternoon for them to think about and join in the conversation on 922-11882 this afternoon here in WA?
BEN HARRIS: Well Karl, as you said, the most important thing is to make sure people are covered, make sure that people understand what they have in their health insurance, and talk to your insurer about your options.
KARL LANGDON: Nice to chat, take care.
BEN HARRIS: Thanks Karl.
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