The Australian Greens have called for a pause on health insurance premiums during the COVID-19 crisis, and for the government to redirect the private health insurance rebate into the public system to assist in delivering critical care.
“Australians should not be paying premiums for a product that can’t be used for its primary purpose, especially when millions of households are facing challenging financial circumstances,” Dr Richard Di Natale, Greens health spokesperson said today.
“Most people cannot use their cover at this time due to restrictions on non-urgent elective surgery. Private health insurers are charging their customers for a product that in most cases, can’t be used.
“Premiums must be paused to provide people with much-needed financial respite.
“Some companies are delaying premium increases, and others have announced some measures to suspend policies or access relief on premiums, but otherwise it is business as usual: insurers collecting premiums, along with the taxpayer-funded private health insurance rebate.
“The private health insurance rebate costs Australian around $7 billion annually.
“The need for a robust and well-funded public health system has never been more apparent than it is today. At a time when our public health system needs every resource it can get, the government should not be diverting funds into the pockets of private health insurers.
“The government must stop forking out millions of dollars of public money for private health insurance and reinvest it all in saving Australian lives in the public hospital system.
“The Greens have long advocated for the abolition of the private health insurance rebate, with that money to be directed back into the public health system to benefit everyone. The case for doing so has never been clearer,” Dr Di Natale concluded.