Nearly half Australia has private health insurance
Latest statistics show that more than 50,000 Australians signed up for health insurance at the time Parliamentary debate on means-testing the private health insurance rebate took place – despite ‘dire predictions’ that the means-test would result in thousands of people dropping their cover, the Federal Government says.
Health Minister Tanya Plibersek says the March quarterly report from the independent Private Health Insurance Administration Council found the number of Australians with hospital cover rose to 10,455,462.
‘During the income-testing debate in February, Tony Abbott and Peter Dutton were among dozens of Coalition MPs who told the Australian Parliament 175,000 would drop out of private health insurance within a year,’ Ms Plibersek says.
‘During the first 3 months of this year another 50,000 people actually joined up.
‘In fact, at the time of the debate, every day more than 550 Australians ignored the Coalition’s Chicken Little routine, joined up to health funds and ensured the industry continued to be vibrant and profitable.’
Ms Plibersek says during the March quarter the industry continued to experience strong profits, reporting a before-tax profit of $366 million. Before tax profit for the year to March was $1.33 billion.
‘Almost half of all Australians – 45.7% - now have private hospital cover.’
The Minister says the percentage of the population with private hospital cover increased by 0.6% from March 2011 to March 2012, a faster increase than that experienced by the general population itself.
‘Means-testing the private health insurance rebate means that low and middle income Australians no longer subsidise the health insurance of higher-income Australians.’
Nearly 8 million private health insurance policy holders won’t be affected when the changes take effect from July 1, 2012.
Individuals earning around $84,000 or less and couples and families earning around $168,000 or less would not be affected. Individuals and families would need to be earning around $130,000 and $260,000 or more respectively to lose the rebate entirely.
Treasury modelling estimates that after these changes come into effect, 99.7% of people will remain in private health insurance, noting that Lifetime Health Cover and the Medicare Levy Surcharge will continue.