The CEO of Medibank, Craig Drummond, Explains Why Private Healthcare Is on the Rise in Time of Pandemic

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The CEO of Medibank, Craig Drummond, Explains Why Private Healthcare Is on the Rise in Time of Pandemic
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As an aftershock of the COVID-19 pandemic, people have become more aware and conscious of their health and well-being. As a result of stress on government budgets and funding, we also see a bit of funding stress on a public health system in Australia. Widely selective surgical whitelists are blowing up, making the private healthcare proposition much more attractive for the future. 

We have seen this uplifting anticipation – more people are taking private health care in Australia. About 140,000 new hospital eyes were added across the system in the December half. That’s the first significant increase in participation we’ve seen since 2014.

As a Medibank brand, we have grown our policyholder numbers for the first time since 2013. So, a lot of this is playing out, but it also plays out in people’s behavior. 

A lot of older folks are avoiding hospitals when they can. Indeed, we see perhaps some softness in what we call the medical areas of climbs, which are people going in for rehabilitation post-surgery and a range of other procedures, that perhaps are not acute. These procedures are now being done in higher, more community-based facilities. So, we have a clinical homecare business, which is in a very-very uplifting volume through the curved period, and that’s continuing. 

We survey our customers and the most recent one we conducted states that four in five Australians are now saying that if they can get clinical care at home, they will do so if it’s appropriate. Those numbers have gone up quite significantly over the last year. 

So, where does this live the outlook for premiums? We’ve got a premium uplift once a year in April. It means that the industry will have a 2.7% increase on 1 April 2021. And premiums for 2022 will be determined later this year with the government. 

I suspect they will be broadly around the same level. The premium prices are one of the things that help to increase the attractiveness of product healthcare. We saw the 5-7% premium uplift to prices four or five years ago. They now are in the twos and threes (2-3%). And that is a much more affordable proposition, particularly bearing in mind the level of wages at the moment.

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Date added: March 1, 2021

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