Country Correspondent: Sonĵ Hall
Despite billions of dollars in public subsidies each year, the share of Australians with private health insurance coverage continues to drop – from 80 percent in the early 1970s to approximately half that today. Premiums that often rise faster than inflation are partly responsible. But also to blame is consumer confusion over what’s in their coverage, which can leave many facing unexpectedly high out-of-pocket costs.
In an effort to stem the tide, the government has standardized insurance products into four categories and is now allowing discounts for younger people, which previously were not permitted under Australia’s “community rating” rules. Other changes include reduced wait times for mental health treatment, expanded women’s health services, coverage of travel and accommodation benefits for those in rural areas, and removal of coverage of most natural therapies.