Private health insurance reforms – Consumers have a say

2006 - 2008

In April 2007, the Australian Government passed a private health insurance reform package through parliament. The involvement of health consumers in the implementation and monitoring of these reforms is essential if they are to deliver better health outcomes for all Australians.

Many CHF members with ongoing health problems have private health insurance. The reforms therefore relate to the CHF priority area of people living with chronic conditions.

Following CHF contribution to the reforms through its 2006-07 project, Private Health Insurance Reforms: Consumers have a say, consumer networks urged CHF to seek further involvement in the implementation phase of the reform package to ensure consumers' needs are considered. Consumers want ongoing monitoring of the impact of the reforms on the health system, access and equity for public and private patients and cost-effectiveness, with a government response where necessary.

The 2007-08 project aims to ensure that health consumers are involved in implementing the reforms. To do this, it will raise awareness and gauge the impact of the legislative changes to private health insurance among health consumer organisations and their networks, and consult them on key issues related to the implementation of the legislation.

Project activities will be informed by consultations around Australia (see Consumer Information Sessions) with consumers on aspects of the reforms, such as:

  • informed financial consent arrangements
  • prostheses reforms and review of health technology assessment
  • quality improvement of the new Private Health Insurance Ombudsman's website, and
  • broader health cover options.

It is expected that the level of consumer understanding about how to use private health insurance will increase as a result of these activities.

CHF will provide advice to government and key stakeholder groups that reflect the views of health consumers on the implementation of the legislation.

Guidance for the project

The 2007-08 project is informed by consumer involvement and feedback during the 2006-07 private health insurance project, consumer representative involvement committees examining private health insurance related issues and the guidance of the CHF private health reforms reference group.

The reference group, chaired by a member of the CHF Governing Committee and including four consumer representatives with expertise pertinent to the project, was established for the 2006-07 project and will continue to provide continuity and long term guidance for the current project.

A liaison officer from the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing will be an observer on the reference group to facilitate two-way communication between the Department and CHF.

Funding

The Implementing Private Health Reforms: Consumers have a say project was funded by the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing.