Expect more unwelcome news on cost-of-living tomorrow (Friday, April 1) with most health funds set to announce an average 2.7 per cent price hike in premiums.
More than half of the Australian population (14 million Australians) has some form of private health insurance and consumer group CHOICE has cautioned premiums are growing faster than wages or inflation.
Premiums have increased 54 per cent in the past decade, while the consumer price index (a measure of inflation) grew only 20 per cent.
Dean Price of CHOICE said: “The Federal Government needs to take real action to address issues that industry is unwilling or unable to fix themselves – we need a full review of the private health system”.
Consumer campaign against the high cost of living, The Great Australian Rip Off, is urging consumers to do their research and shop around.
The campaign, launched ahead of the Federal election, exposes ‘secret’ commissions paid to brokers, commercial comparison websites and third parties, that contribute to rising premiums. Evidence to multiple inquiries has revealed commissions and incentives are as high as 60 per cent.
Campaign spokesperson and consumer advocate, Trond Smith warned consumers to “beware of commercial comparison websites in their hunt for a good deal”.
“The sites claim to save you time and money, but secret and very high commissions have been found to be a big driver in pushing up the general cost of premiums,” he said.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has recommended an industry code to expose the ‘secret’ commissions and The Great Australian Rip Off campaign is calling for more accountability and penalties to protect consumers.
“There needs to be a mandatory code to expose commissions, expose commercial relationships between brokers, commercial comparison websites and third-parties with suppliers, and impose penalties for breaches of the code,” Mr Smith said.
He said the only good news was that some health insurers had announced they would delay price increases until later this year.
“The advice would be to do your research with potential savings of up to $1,500 on like-for-like policies.
“The Great Australian Rip Off’ is uniting consumers, who are fed up with the high cost of living, to create pressure to help bring down household bills,” Mr Smith said.