News Life and Health30 Mar 2018

Australia:Private health insurers are less trusted than distrusted

30 Mar 2018

A new landmark survey shows that private health insurance is more distrusted than it is trusted by Australians.

In Net Trust Score (NTS)© surveys conducted by the Roy Morgan Research Institute between October 2017 and February 2018, the health insurance industry recorded a negative NTS of -2.6%. Net trust is the measure of trust minus the measure of distrust in a category or a brand. This is known as NTS or Net Trust Score.

The survey results show:

Trust Score                   1.3%

Distrust Score               3.9%

Net Trust Score (NTS)  -2.6%

According to Roy Morgan CEO Michele Levine this level of systemic distrust is unexpected given the highly trusted health system it operates in.

The health ecosystem in which private health insurers operate comprise healthcare professions who consistently rank as the most respected in Australia and have done so since 1994, when Roy Morgan started measuring honesty and ethics.

Ms Levine said: “There is no doubt that when a patient has to pay an unexpected gap at a doctor’s surgery or hospital, they do not blame the health professionals, they blame their private health fund.

“The customer places their trust in the insurer; should they need to make a claim, they trust the insurer to fulfil its policy obligations. So, this level of industry distrust should be of concern to the funds.

“With trust at the heart of the health insurance relationship – current and potential – a fund’s degree of customer trust directly impacts so called brand stretch, pricing elasticity and member retention.

“Higher levels of trust feed a customer’s emotional belief that their fund will deliver on its policy promises, in turn reducing the customer’s price sensitivity. This is important to health insurance funds,

“In the current market in which private health insurance premiums continue to rise, it is a matter of survival that funds maintain high levels of net trust.”

Health Minister Greg Hunt has said that private health insurance premiums will increase by 3.95% on average wef 1 April.

The Roy Morgan Private Health Insurance Tracker survey reveals that when the distrust quotient is subtracted from that of trust, private health insurance funds with the highest net trust scores are HCF followed by Teachers Health and Medibank Private, said Ms Levine.


Initially, at Roy Morgan asked 2,848 Australians which brands they trust and which they distrust. Three rounds were conducted in October 2017, January and February 2018. Then in March 2018, a survey of another 1,600 Australians was conducted asking which private health insurance brands they trust and distrust.


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