The Private Health Insurance Legislation Amendment Bill 2018 (CTH) (‘the Bill’) has been referred to the Senate Community Affairs Legislation Committee on 19 June 2018. The Bill is part of a larger package of reforms to private health insurance options as announced in 2017, and proposes to enable private health insurers to have more flexibility in offering hospital and treatment cover products by using age-based discounts. In addition, this Bill proposes to improve information for consumers, and streamline benefit arrangements for hospitals.
This Bill is part of a broader package of reforms to private health insurance, which was announced on 13 October 2017 by the Department of Health. The main bill in this package of reforms is the Private Health Insurance Legislation Amendment Bill 2018 (CTH), which was introduced by the government on 28 March 2018. The other related bills in this reforms package are A New Tax System (Medicare Levy Surcharge—Fringe Benefits) Amendment (Excess Levels for Private Health Insurance Policies) Bill 2018 (CTH) and the Medicare Levy Amendment (Excess Levels for Private Health Insurance Policies) Bill 2018 (CTH). These two bills were also referred to the Senate Community Affairs on 19 June 2018.
According to aissued on 13 October 2017, the reforms propose to increase the maximum excess that customers will be able to choose, and also proposes to simplify private health insurance options for consumers’ benefit. This would be done by requiring insurers to categorise products as gold, silver, bronze or basic, and also use standardised definitions in their policies to prevent confusion for consumers. According to this media release, the proposed reforms would also increase the powers of the Private Health Insurance Ombudsman, with the aim of allowing consumer complaints and issues to be resolved rapidly.
The Bill proposes to make the following amendments to the Private Health Insurance Act 2007 ( CTH) and related legislation:
The Bill also proposes to make the following amendments to the Ombudsman Act 1976 (CTH):
In his second reading speech, Minister for Health Greg Hunt stated that the Bill would aim to improve transparency for consumers:
In a, the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists stated that it supported the proposed reforms.
At the time of the reform announcement, Australian Medical Association president Michael Gannon was:
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Private Health Insurance Legislation Amendment Bill 2018 (CTH), and associated second reading speeches and explanatory memorandum, as published on TimeBase LawOne.
The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists,.
[media release] Minister for Health, ‘,’ 13 October 2017.
Charis Chang, ‘,’ News.com.au, 13 October 2017.
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