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Price hike blame not ours: CEO

Posted 10 February 2017

Don’t blame public hospitals for the price hike in private health insurance, said the CEO of the Victorian Healthcare Association, Tom Symondson, today.

The federal government has announced today a 4.84 per cent increase of private health insurance premiums.

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt has approved an average health fund premium rise three times the inflation rate estimated to equate to an additional $200 a year to the cost of family cover.

Minister Hunt was quoted as saying he was concerned about “cost shifting”.

“This is putting pressure on private health insurance premiums and taking beds away from public patients that need them - and that leads to longer waiting times,” he claimed.  It was important public hospital beds were “available for people when they need them” he told News Corp.

But Mr Symondson, speaking on behalf of Victoria’s public health services, said it was completely misguided to blame the public health sector for the rise by private insurers – many of whom registered record profits last year.

“Is Minister Hunt asking private patients in rural communities to bypass their local hospital and travel long distances to regional centres just to attend a private facility?

“Our members are so often the sole provider of acute care in regional and rural areas, with the private market failing to offer any service.”

Australians are free to choose their doctor and place of treatment when using their private health insurance, this includes public hospitals.

“It’s the patient’s right – they should not be penalised for this,” Mr Symondson said.

“Calls to restrict when and where Australians can access healthcare are both unfair and another shift of burden from profitable insurers onto the average Australian policy holder.”

The public sector - the backbone of Australia’s health system caring for almost six million Australians a year – played a vital role in regional and rural areas.

The VHA is the not-for-profit peak body supporting Victoria’s public hospitals, community health services and aged care providers to deliver quality care. 

For more information contact:

Rosanne Michie | Director of Media and Communications m. 0411 868535 or e. rosanne.michie@vha.org.au  

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