House debates

Thursday, 20 September 2018

Questions without Notice

Private Health Insurance

2:55 pm

Photo of Tony PasinTony Pasin (Barker, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Minister for Health. Will the minister update the House on how our government is standing by Australian families by delivering simpler and more affordable private health insurance for the more than 13 million Australians who rely on it? Minister, are you aware of any ideas that would undermine the viability of Australia's private health insurance system?

Photo of Greg HuntGreg Hunt (Flinders, Liberal Party, Minister for Health) Share this | | Hansard source

I want to thank the member for Barker, who believes deeply in the opportunity for families to have lower cost and more choice and peace of mind from private health insurance, as does everybody on this side. It is something we believe in. On the other side, Labor hates private health insurance. They took an axe to it last time they were in government and they will take an axe to it if they ever get onto this side of the Treasury benches again. How do we know? Because we just heard from the member for Sydney, and what did the member for Sydney say about private health insurance when commenting on her time as health minister? She said: 'Every promise I made I paid for. How did I pay for it? I paid for it by targeting private health insurance.' Targeting private health insurance—that's what they think of choice. That's what they think of peace of mind. And how did they do this? They ripped away the rebate when they were in government. And who was it who suffered? Pensioners, low-income earners, families—they were the ones who paid, with record hikes in private health insurance under their watch. They didn't care and they couldn't manage and the Australian public paid for their incompetence.

In contrast, what have we done? We have just passed legislation through both houses of parliament that will deliver lower pressures on private health insurance and simpler, more-understandable and more-effective approaches to private health insurance. What does it include? It includes better access to mental health care for people in private health insurance, with no waiting time for upgrades, and better access for rural, remote and regional patients. In addition to that, it includes discounts of up to 10 per cent for young people under the age of 30. But more than that, because of the billions of dollars of costs we were able to take out of it through the agreement with the device makers, we were able to deliver the lowest change in premium in 17 years—lower than every year under Labor.

All of this is significant, but we think we'll do better again this year. But what Labor is now proposing for the future isn't a 10 per cent, an 11 per cent, a 12 per cent, a 13 per cent, a 14 per cent or even a 15 per cent price hike; it's a 16 per cent price hike in private health insurance premiums. Why is that? Because in the fine print of everything they're proposing is the proposal to rip away the rebate for lower-cost policies. If you rip away the rebate, that will have a massive impact on the lower-cost premiums, which will affect those who are on lower incomes. So, under Labor, pensioners and families will pay more for private health insurance.