Gold, Silver, Bronze a win for consumers
Health insurer Bupa says it welcomes any change to private health insurance that makes it easier for the customer to understand and make appropriate decisions regarding their health insurance.
The Federal Health Minister, Greg Hunt, says the minimum hospital treatments covered by the new policy bands will be in place by April 1 2019.
Bupa says it has advocated for greater transparency and communication of health insurance products and costs for some time.
That has included working with government and other appropriate reform bodies to help make industry-wide changes that further reduce complexity and increase transparency for customers.
"One of the key government decisions will be the minimum level of cover required in a bronze product to attract the rebate. There is a real balance needed between keeping things affordable for those with tight budgets while wanting to have products that are worthwhile and which don’t incentivise more expensive care by providers than is really needed," Bupa said in a statement.
Mr Hunt says the system will not lead to a change in prices for procedures, but will allow consumers to clearly see what their policies pay for.
"For the first time, people will be able to see on a single page what is included and what isn't. There's no increase in prices as a result of this," he told the Nine Network.
"We're not changing policies, we're categorising them so that everybody can see very simply what's in, what's out. Exactly what they are personally covered for."
A gold policy includes everything, including treatments many people don't need, said Mr Hunt.
"One of the great complaints that we have is that many males, many women beyond child bearing age will say, I've only just discovered I'm being covered for pregnancy when of course there's no need for that," he said.
The government has recommended 20 basic hospital treatments, including appendix surgeries, chemotherapy and tonsillectomies be covered by all bronze policies.
Procedures such as IVF and joint replacements would be included under gold coverage.
Gold/Silver/Bronze policy classification was one of a suite of reforms announced by the Government in October last year.
The Government is still working through final details on a number of the other reforms, which the industry across the board has supported and says it will help consumers.
Further information about the new product tiers and the treatments covered by health fund products will be provided to customers in the first half of 2019.