The West

Families with a HBF policy face an insurance premium rise of about $200 next year as the Federal Government tightens the screws on health funds.

With the deadline for funds to lodge applications to lift premiums closing yesterday, new figures reveal funds are enjoying bumper profits.

According to funds regulator, the Private Health Insurance Administration Council, pre-tax profit for the industry surged 23.7 per cent to $1.5 billion in the 12 months to the end of September.

The council has warned funds in recent weeks that it does not consider competition strong in the industry and its top priority when assessing applications would be the impact on consumers.

Health insurers are expecting approval to raise premiums about 5 per cent for the second year running. The average premium rise this year was 5.06 per cent, with the country's biggest insurers Medibank Private and Bupa limiting their rises to under 5 per cent.

For West Australians, HBF chief Rob Bransby has pledged next year's rise would be no higher than this year's 5.85 per cent increase.

Using 5.85 per cent as the ceiling, a family with top hospital and standard extras cover paying $3500 a year now would see their annual premium go up $205.

The West Australian

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