Health funds delay controversial premium rises

Major health funds will delay their April 1 premium rise for six months, saving their members hundreds of dollars.

The government will extend Medicare rebates to cover telehealth consultations for all doctors visits in a move costing $669 million.

And $74 million will be set aside for mental health consultations during COVID-19.r

Most large health funds last week refused to delay their April 1 premium rise even though HBF, Defence Health and other funds moved to do delay it for 12 months.

This was even though as the funds stand to save hundreds of millions of dollars after non-urgent

A view of the COVID-19 Clinic at the Alfred Hospital in Melbourne. Picture: Getty
A view of the COVID-19 Clinic at the Alfred Hospital in Melbourne. Picture: Getty

Private Healthcare Australia Chief executive Dr Rachel David announced that member health funds will postpone the 1 April premium increase for at least six months.

Heath funds in conjunction with the Department of Health will review the measure in 6 months times, she said.

"This is a continuing process and health funds will be regularly reviewing their financial position in coming months to provide as much support as possible to members. It is a tough time for all Australians and circumstances are changing rapidly. We will do all we can to support our members and the Australian community," said CEO Dr Rachel David.

Dr David has urged members whose financial circumstances have changed, to talk to their health fund before considering downgrading or dropping their health cover.



Some health funds are offering financial relief to those most in need, people who have lost their jobs, are underemployed or have contracted the virus. Other measures include:

All hospital policies - from Basic to Gold - will include full hospital coverage for people affected by COVID-19

People experiencing financial hardship as a result of the crisis will be able to access relief from premium costs - members are urged to contact their health fund directly

Health funds are covering telehealth services from psychologists from Monday 30 March

Health funds will cover telehealth services from other allied health professions where practical and clinically appropriate. Funding for tele-physiotherapy services has already been announced, with more announcements concerning additional professions to be made in the coming days.

Health funds will continue to provide access to and reimburse emergency dental services and will direct members needing access appropriately.

We are putting in place special arrangements to allow more hospital in the home services and more remote access services for our members at particular risk [subject to government approval.

Originally published as Health funds delay controversial premium rises