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Private health cover rises again: 43% covered.

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MEDIA RELEASE Minister for Health and Ageing

Tony Abbott MHR

19 February 2006 ABB017/06

Private health cover rises again - 43% covered

Almost 8.8 million Australians were covered by private health insurance in the December 2005 quarter, an increase of 48,000 on the previous quarter, according to figures released by the Private Health Insurance Administration Council.

This is the second highest quarterly increase since September 2000. It means 43.1 per cent of Australians now have private hospital insurance cover.

A total 82.7 per cent of in-hospital medical services were provided with no out-of-pocket expenses for the patients - 1.8 per cent higher than in December 2004 and the highest since July 2000, when this data started being collected.

As well, a record 8.57 million people, or 41.9 per cent of Australians, have private ancillary cover (up by 68,000 people).

Overall, a record 10.12 million people were covered either by private hospital or ancillary policies in the December 2005 quarter.

The Commonwealth Government’s higher rebates have made private health insurance more affordable for older Australians. From April 2005, the rebate was increased from 30 to 40 per cent for people aged 70 years and over and to 35 per cent for those aged 65-69 years. In the

December quarter the number of people aged 65 years and over grew by 17,100.

The government’s policies are relieving pressure on the public health system. This is resulting in increasing numbers of procedures being carried out in the private hospital system. In the December quarter, 591,000 privately insured patients were treated: 430,000 in private

hospitals, 80,300 in public hospitals and 80,700 in day hospitals.

Since June 2003, each quarter’s result has been an increase on the same quarter of the previous year.

Media contact: Kate Miranda, Office of Tony Abbott, 0417 425 227