The government has announced that health insurance premiums will go up on average 3.25% on 1 April 2019, which is the lowest year-on-year premium increase in 18 years.
Private health insurers paid for A$20.5bn ($14.3bn) of medical care in the past year, up 3.4% on the previous year, and are under pressure due to customers turning their backs on the sector as premiums become more expensive.
Commenting on the premium changes for this year, Minister for Health Greg Hunt said in a statement,"This premium change will see a single person will pay an average of A$1.14 extra per week and a family on average will pay A$2.35 more a week."
Westfund members will see their premiums rise by the lowest amount, with premiums going up by an average of 1.64% in 2019. At the other end of the spectrum, Nurses & Midwives Health premiums rising are rising the most in 2019, with an average jump of 5.91%.
Of the big four health funds, Bupa's average premiums are rising the slowest this year at 2.99%. Bupa is HCF with 3.20%, Medibank (3.30%) and nib (3.38%).
Since 2010, health insurance premiums have risen steadily each year and while the last couple of years have seen record low year-on-year rate rises, the increase this year means that the cost of the average policy has risen by over 50% since 2010.
Private Healthcare Australia chief executive Dr Rachel David hopes that the health insurance reforms that are set to roll out in the near future will help to ease affordability.
"The reforms were developed over a two-year period by Government, health funds, private hospitals, medical specialists and allied health groups. Passed by the Parliament in September, the package of reforms is already starting to deliver results with this year's premium increase lower than it would otherwise be," said Dr David.
One big change will be the health insurance tiers: gold, silver, bronze and bronze basic. Policies will have to meet minimum requirements at each level, which should make comparing polices easier for consumers.
Another major change is age-based discounts. If the health fund member is aged under 30, he will get a discount of 2% (up to 10%) for every year he holds cover and that discount will remain in place until he turns 30.