Private health insurance will be more attractive for people living in rural and regional areas as a result of Coalition Government reforms that will allow insurers to offer travel and accommodation benefits under private health insurance hospital cover.
These new arrangements will allow private health insurers to support customers living in country areas who need to travel to larger urban centres to receive specialist hospital treatment not available in their local towns.
Minister for Rural Health, Senator Bridget McKenzie, said that as it stood, travel and accommodation could generally only be claimed by members with top level general treatment (extras) cover and the benefits offered had not kept pace with costs.
“Australians living in rural and regional communities often need to travel to receive hospital treatment in larger urban centres or capital cities,” Minister McKenzie said.
“The Coalition Government’s reforms will come into effect from 1 April 2019, allowing insurers to offer travel and accommodation benefits under hospital cover and not just general treatment policies.
“The improved travel and accommodation benefits are part of a broader package of private health insurance reforms to improve affordability and make private health insurance easier to understand for consumers.
“The government has already reduced the cost of medical devices leading to savings of $1.1 billion over 4 years for consumers and has enabled consumers with mental health concerns to immediately upgrade their private health insurance.
“In addition, from 1 April 2019 Australians under 30 years of age will be able to receive discounts of up to 10 per cent off their private health insurance and new categories of gold, silver, bronze and basic will make private health insurance easier to understand for consumers.
“The reforms are another example of the Coalition Government’s absolute commitment to assisting rural and regional Australians.
“Research shows that Labor’s plan to scrap lower-cost policies could result in a 16 per cent increase premiums for millions of Australians. Increases like this are just not sustainable for so many regional Australian families.
“The Coalition Government is making private health insurance easier to understand and more affordable for rural Australians.”
Minister McKenzie said private health insurance offered many benefits, for instance access to private in-hospital services.
“Purchasing private health insurance allows a person to be treated in a private or public hospital as a private patient,” Minister McKenzie said.
“This means that depending on the circumstances, a person can choose the doctor who treats them, the hospital they are treated in and a time that suits them.
“Private health insurance also provides cover for services not covered by Medicare such as physiotherapy, dental, optometry and podiatry services. Many people rely on private health insurance to access services they would otherwise be unable to afford.
“The Coalition Government is helping families with the cost of living, growing our economy, creating more jobs and guaranteeing essential services.”