Trade Practices Compliance in the private health insurance sector

In a recent speech ACCC Commissioner, Mr John Martin discussed issues that are being raised with the ACCC in relation to private health insurance, and how those issues fit in to the wider health sector.

In the health sector, complaints about health insurance made up the second largest category recorded during the survey period, and related to around 17 per cent of all health-related contacts. The ACCC received more calls about health insurance than it did about general medical practice services, aged care or hospitals.

The most prevalent were complaints that a health insurance provider would not give a required rebate or would not cover certain services. Several complaints related to preferred provider schemes, as well as increases in policy premiums.

The ACCC sees it as an important consumer issue for patients to have a reasonable idea of the likely costs of any treatment before they elect to take it ("informed financial consent").

The Commissioner also discussed the effect of mergers on competition in health insurance.

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