Which health insurers will delay their April premium increases?

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on March 11, 2022 Fact Checked
Which health insurers will delay their April premium increases?

While the majority of health funds have scheduled premium increases for April, some have decided to delay the price hikes until at least September.

This year the average premium increase across all health funds is 2.7% according to the Federal Government's health website.

The lowest was Transport Health at 1.16% while the highest was CBHS Corporate at 5.33%. 

The latest underlying inflation figure came in at 2.6%.

Major health funds to have delayed their premium increases include:

AIA

AIA has delayed its planned premium increase of 2.80% until 1 September.

"Health insurance premiums usually increase on 1 April. In support of our members however, we are delaying our customers’ premium increase until 1 September 2022, keeping more money in their pockets," an AIA spokesperson told Savings.com.au.

BUPA

BUPA pencilled in a 3.18% increase to premiums but has delayed this until 1 October.

BUPA managing director Chris Carroll said this is the second-lowest premium increase from the fund in 20 years and below the projected cost of claims.

"While most Covid-19 restrictions have eased progressively across the country, many people are still dealing with the ongoing financial impacts of the pandemic, as well as managing delays for the delivery of some healthcare services," Mr Carroll said.

GMHBA

GMHBA has delayed its premium increase of 3.10% to 1 October.

"In December we announced our lowest premium increase in 20 years and we are now also returning around $11 million in support to our members, taking the total value we have delivered to members through the COVID-19 pandemic to over $26 million," GMHBA CEO David Greig said.

"This means that any member who may have received a premium increase will have that increase frozen until October. This is a simple way for us to return these savings to our members."

HCF

HCF has delayed its 2.72% premium increase to 1 November, the latest out of the health funds.

"We would love to have no premium increase at all... however, it’s also a fact that the demand for health services continues to rise at a fast rate," HCF CEO Sheena Jacks said.

"Increased technology, higher cost of technology, more procedures being conducted than ever before, the ageing population – all of these are factors that are driving health costs up."

Medibank

Medibank deferred its 3.10% increase to 1 October.

Medibank CEO David Koczkar said this increase is the lowest premium increase in 21 years.

"We have worked hard to deliver our lowest average premium increase in 21 years, recognising the importance of keeping private health insurance affordable," Mr Koczkar said.

"While we know no one likes their premium to go up, healthcare costs are continuing to increase at a rate much higher than general inflation."

NIB

NIB delayed its 2.66% increase to 1 September, which is the lowest premium increase in 20 years.

"It’s a highly stressful time and I don’t want to downplay the financial toll it’s having on our members," NIB managing director
Mark Fitzgibbon said.

"We also recognise that many healthcare services have been suspended or delayed which has impacted our claims experience and risk equalisation commitment.

"By deferring premium increases we’re making good on our commitment to returning any permanent savings to our members."

Teachers Health

One of the largest employer-specific health funds, Teachers Health has delayed its 2.17% increase to 1 October.

The fund estimates it will save teachers and nurses a combined $13.1 million in 2022.

There will also be a rollover of unused extras limits. 

List of 2022 health insurance premium increases

Fund Health Premium Rise - 2022
ACA Health Benefits Fund Limited 2.59%
AIA Health Insurance 2.80%
Australian Unity Health Limited 2.73%
BUPA HI Pty Ltd 3.18%
CBHS Corporate Health Pty Ltd 5.33%
CBHS Health Fund Limited 2.91%
Cessnock District Health Benefits Fund Limited 3.77%
CUA Health Limited 3.42%
Defence Health Limited 3.33%
Doctors' Health Fund Pty Ltd 2.28%
GMHBA Limited 3.10%
HBF Health Limited 3.62%
Health Care Insurance Ltd 1.09%
Health Insurance Fund of Australia Limited 3.20%
Health Partners Limited 3.15%
health.com.au Pty Ltd -
Hospitals Contribution Fund of Australia Ltd 2.72%
Latrobe Health Services Limited 3.41%
Medibank Private Limited 3.10%
Mildura District Hospital Fund Ltd 2.90%
National Health Benefits Australia Pty Ltd 3.24%
Navy Health Ltd 3.25%
NIB Health Funds Ltd 2.66%
Nurses & Midwives Health Pty Ltd -
Peoplecare Health Limited 3.27%
Phoenix Health Fund Limited 3.16%
Police Health Limited 1.79%
Queensland Country Health Fund Ltd 3.34%
Queensland Teachers' Union Health Fund Limited 2.26%
Railway & Transport Health Fund Ltd -
Reserve Bank Health Society Ltd 3.74%
St Luke's Medical and Hospital Benefits Association 3.19%
Teachers Federation Health Ltd 2.17%
Transport Health Pty Ltd 1.16%
Westfund Limited 2.40%
Industry Average 2.70%

Source: health.gov.au

Prudential regulator data for 2021 shows premium revenue increased 5.8% to $26.4 billion, which is contrasted with fund claims of $21.9 billion, down 1.2%.

As a consequence net margins rose to 7.7% - up 5.8 percentage points from 2020.

APRA put this down to claims falling through 2021 due to Covid restrictions.

Hospital membership increased by more than 228,000 people through the year, dominated by the 50-plus age group up nearly 120,000.

Are delays in premium increases all they are cracked up to be?

While a number of health funds have delayed increasing premiums, others haven't.

However, a HBF spokesperson told Savings.com.au policyholders have to read between the lines. 

HBF is due to increase premiums by 3.62% on 1 April.

"It’s worth being mindful of the broader context of how policyholders have fared on their health insurance since the pandemic started," they said.

"In March 2020, we were the only major insurer to fully cancel our 2020 premium increase; premiums were frozen from 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021, saving members $37 million.

"Most other health insurers deferred for six months, meaning policyholders had two increases - 1 October 2020 and 1 April 2021."

The spokesperson said HBF was also the first to offer Covid-related cashback deals direct to consumers, worth $42 million.

"Our average premium increase for the past five years is 2.45%, the lowest of any fund," the spokesperson said.

"Our averages for the past three and ten years are also lower than all the major health funds."


Photo by Edi Libedinksy on Unsplash

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Harrison is Savings.com.au's Assistant Editor. Prior to joining Savings in January 2020, he worked for some of Australia's largest comparison sites and media organisations. With a keen interest in the economy, housing policy, and personal finance, Harrison strives to deliver and edit news and guides that are engaging, thought-provoking, and simple to read.

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