Australia: Health insurance premiums rise in largest hike in five years

| 02 Apr 2024

More than 15 million Australians will have their private health insurance premiums rise by more than 3% in the biggest increase in five years.

Customers at the nation’s largest private health fund, Medibank Private, will be paying 3.3% more, while Bupa’s prices will jump by 3.6%. 

Policyholders with HSF will experience a 4% hike and NIB’s premiums will rise by 4.1%. 

Tasmania-based Health Care Insurance has won the trophy for having the smallest increase in their average premium, up just 0.3%. 

Meanwhile, CBHS Corporate Health members will be stung with a 5.8% rise.

Federal Health Minister Mark Butler approved the average 3.03% increase across the 31 insurers in early March, stressing it was lower than the annual rise in wages and inflation. 

“The increase in health insurance premiums is much lower than the increase to the cost of other insurance products, which rose by around 17% in 2023,” he said at the time. 

The insurers are permitted to increase premiums annually, however the Health Minister must approve any rise.

Last year, Mr Butler rejected the health funds initial request to increase fees by up to 6%. 

About 55% of Australia’s population is covered by private health insurance, with the cost partly subsidised by government via a tax rebate which reduces as a policyholder’s income grows.

In the past year, more than $23.5 billion in health and medical benefits were paid out to policyholders by health insurers.

The insurers say they are doing what they can to keep premiums reasonable. 

“Premium increases are never welcome, which is why we have worked hard to ensure this year’s is as low as it can be, despite rising health costs in the private system. It’s also lower than the price rises seen in other insurance, such as car and house insurance,” Medibank Chief Customer Officer Milosh Milisavljevic said. 

Bupa Health Insurance Managing Director Chris Carroll said he knows “many household budgets remain under real pressure”. 

“We want our members to know we’re working hard to help ensure they continue to have access to affordable and high-quality healthcare,” Mr Carroll said.  “Bupa’s premium adjustment this year is lower than inflation and less than rising healthcare costs. 

“We know every dollar helps and that’s why we’ve given back $1.35 billion to our customers through cashbacks and premium deferrals,” he said, reported