Making private health insurance more affordable, simple and relevant for customers: Bupa’s Productivity Commission submission


Bupa has made a submission to the Productivity Commission’s Productivity Inquiry, which encourages reform to make private health insurance more affordable, simple and relevant to Australians.

Private health insurance contributes $61 billion to Australia’s economic activity annually and adds to economic wellbeing by helping people remain healthy and productive.

Bupa’s submission focuses on customer-centred reform to deliver a more productive private health care sector, while taking pressure off our public hospitals which remain under stress.

As pressure mounts on household budgets, spending on health care needs to be directed to care that offers genuine improvements in health outcomes for those receiving it. Even a 10% drop in private health membership would see 1.5 million additional people becoming fully dependent on the public hospital system, increasing waiting lists by 90 per cent and taxpayers would need to pay for an extra 3,600 hospital beds - equivalent to Australia’s four largest hospitals.

Bupa’s suggestions for key areas of reform, include:

  • Allowing the funding of more care in a community setting rather than in hospital will reduce the incentives to medicalise treatment which doesn’t require a hospital setting, for example drug and alcohol counselling.
  • Removing regulatory barriers to making it more attractive for young people to take out private health insurance, for instance by allowing the funding of wellness and lifestyle products.
  • Reducing red tape to allow more preventative and out of hospital care that reflect modern care delivery and the increase in chronic illness.
  • Standardised reporting across all hospitals in Australia, regardless of sector, to provide a better understanding of performance and better enable improvements in productivity.
  • Outlawing split billing to protect consumers from surprise out of pocket costs and to notify consumers of all fees up front, and
  • Bringing Australia in line with other countries around the world with more affordable medical devices by ensuring that private patients do not pay more than public patients.

The Productivity Commission’s Productivity Inquiry takes place every five years to provide the Federal Government with an analysis of Australia’s productivity performance and recommendations to assist with future productivity-enhancing reforms.

Read Bupa’s full submission here.