HBA Premium Increase Less Than Industry Average for Eighth Consecutive Year

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HBA announces private health insurance premiums to rise by an average of 6.0% for a single membership keeping the increase less than the national industry average of 6.02%.

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All HBA customers can have confidence that we will continue to support their health, and that of their families, via our cost-effective and comprehensive range of products and services

HBA today announced its private health insurance premiums would rise by an average of 6.0%, or less than $1.50 a week, for a single membership.

Importantly, HBA's increase is lower than the national industry average of 6.02%, which was announced by the Federal Health Minister today.

The company's managing director, Richard Bowden, said this highlighted HBA's customer focus and price competitiveness, particularly given this was the eighth consecutive year its premiums were below the industry average.

"HBA has again demonstrated that we don't believe in large premium fluctuations. Instead, we remain committed to ensuring health insurance is affordable for more Australians, while delivering access to high quality healthcare," he said.

"In a perfect world, we would be able to shield customers from any price rise. However, the reality is that both the benefits we pay to members and the costs of healthcare are increasing considerably."

Bowden highlighted the fact that HBA's premiums had risen at a significantly lower rate than the increase in benefits paid on members' behalf.

In the 12 months to June 2008, HBA paid more than $1 billion - or over $2.8 million a day - in benefits to members. This surge in claims represented an increase of more than 10% - or $103.4 million - on the previous financial year.

HBA's 10 most expensive health insurance claims in 2008 totalled $1.1 million, while its highest claim was made by a member who underwent brain surgery - at a cost of $152,000.

"The sheer size of the benefits HBA is paying on behalf of members is testament to the fact that more and more Australians require expensive medical treatments," Bowden said.

Similarly, the Health Services Index showed costs for hospital and medical services rose by 6.1% in 2008. Yet despite these ever-growing costs, 89% of all medical services provided to HBA members in hospital were gap free in 2008.

"Irrespective of the fact that improved medical technologies and treatments are escalating the costs of healthcare, we're determined to keep downward pressure on members' costs," Bowden said.

HBA has been able to consistently keep its average private health insurance premium increases below the industry average due to efficient management practices and business operations.

The average dollar increase for HBA cover is less than $1.50 for singles and $3.30 for families per week - with the Federal Government rebate.

"All HBA customers can have confidence that we will continue to support their health, and that of their families, via our cost-effective and comprehensive range of products and services," Bowden said.

HBA customers will be notified in writing of the changes to their insurance premiums. The changes are effective from Wednesday, 1 April.

About HBA
HBA is the second largest non-government private health fund in Australia. HBA's history in providing Australians with access to quality private health care can be traced back over seventy years, while more recently keeping its average premium increases below the industry average since 2002.

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Meagan Starritt
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