Young Aussies ditch private health: report

Finbar O'Mallon
Just over 7000 people aged 25 to 29 gave up private hospital cover in the last financial quarter

Young Australians ditched private health insurance by the thousands between June and September, new data reveals.

Figures released on Tuesday showed 7044 people aged 25 to 29 gave up their private hospital cover in the last financial quarter.

Australians aged between 60 to 84 were paid the most hospital benefits in the last financial quarter, according to the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority data .

Out-of-pocket costs for medical specialists soared by 20 per cent between June 30 and September 30.

The revenue insurers made from premiums rose by more than $500 million in the 12 months to September.

The data shows more than 15,000 people took up hospital cover in the last quarter but there were 11,000 fewer people with hospital cover since this time last year.

While older Australians had a higher claiming rate, a rise in benefits paid out to women aged 20 to 30 was pinned on more benefits being available for child bearing.

Overall, APRA's latest round of figures showed small drops in the number of people with hospital or general policies in the last quarter.

One group has leapt on the data as proof that any future premium rises from insurers should be rejected.

Medical Technology Association of Australia chief executive Ian Burgess said insurers had made $70 million in the September quarter on medical device savings.

He pointed to a 2017 government agreement that saw medical device providers cut prices to reduce costs for private insurers.

"These figures prove medical device price cuts have turned into another 'corporate bailout on private health by stealth'," Mr Burgess said.

Australian Private Hospitals Association chief executive Michael Roff said a rise in private hospital admissions showed Australians had confidence in the private system.

But Mr Roff said there were still too many people in the public hospital system, putting pressure on surgery waiting times.