Summary of the Second meeting of the Private Health Ministerial Advisory Committee – Information Provision for Consumers Working Group, 21 March 2017

This page contains the summary for the second meeting of the Private Health Ministerial Advisory Committee – Information Provision for Consumers Working Group, 21 March 2017.

Page last updated: 27 March 2017

PDF version: Summary of the second meeting of the Private Health Ministerial Advisory Committee – Information Provision for Consumers Working Group (PDF 126 KB)


Attendees

Members  
Susan Parker, Chair Jo Root, Consumers Health Forum
Matt Levey, CHOICE Michael Siwes, iSelect
Kylie Jenkins, COTA Diane Pavlicevic, GMHBA
Rebecca Lush, HAMBS Ayela Thilo, Bupa
David Salisbury, Australian Competition and Consumer Commission Anita Mulrooney, hirmaa Marketing Committee
Dr Robert Herkes, Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care Ron Wilson, Private Health Insurance Code of Conduct Compliance Committee
Jodette Kotz, Australian Medical Association Michelle Jakubauskas, Australian Securities and Investments Commission
Christopher Zinn, Private Health Insurance Intermediaries Association  
Secretariat  
Charles Maskell-Knight Peta McElgunn
Anna Smith  

Apologies

Lucy Cheetham, Australian Private Hospitals Association; Jenny Williams, HCF; David McGregor, Private Health Insurance Ombudsman; and Tim Andri, Australian Securities and Investments Commission.

1. Welcome, introductions, apologies and review actions

  • The Chair opened the meeting and welcomed members.
  • Members did not declare any new conflicts of interest.

2. Market research and statistics

  • The Chair presented research on how different demographic groups use technology in Australia. The Chair emphasised the importance of a multi-channel approach and the need for the sector to promote a fluid customer experience.
  • David Salisbury spoke about findings from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission report, Consumer survey – private health insurance, including that 81 per cent of survey respondents hadn’t read a Standard Information Statement (SIS) after policy purchase.

3. Broader information provision activities around private health insurance

  • The Working Group discussed the potential for developing an overall education strategy for consumers to include key messages on topics such as Lifetime Health Cover (LHC), product design, what the different levels of cover mean, what community rating is and how it works.
  • Members discussed whether such a strategy would benefit from being insurer or government led, the timing of communicating information and the importance of continued education for consumers.
  • Members noted that an education strategy for consumers, including promoting privatehealth.gov.au, could form a part of any larger campaign to inform consumers of any changes to product design.

4. Presentation by the Private Health Insurance Intermediaries Association

  • Christopher Zinn, Chief Executive Officer, Private Health Insurance Intermediaries Association (PHIIA) delivered a presentation on what intermediaries are, PHIIA’s role as the industry peak body and perceived benefits to consumers of using an intermediary.

5. Ways of communicating information

  • The Working Group discussed different channels for communicating with consumers and proposed pathways to guide consumers through the private health insurance journey, with clearer roles for all groups. The Working Group discussed the complex nature of private health insurance and how best to provide information to consumers to engage them.
  • Members generally agreed that a core set of consistent information should be included on all providers’ websites.
  • Members also discussed making regulation technologically neutral. Members agreed that it is important to ensure future regulation gives maximum flexibility to insurers yet guarantees consumers access to easily comparable information.

6. Redeveloping Standard Information Statements

  • Members discussed whether SISs provided the right information to consumers at the right time in the right way. Members agreed that the SIS was useful as a starting point for comparison for consumers who are looking to take out private health insurance or swap insurers. Most members were of the view that the SIS in its current format was not ideal but all agreed that a minimum information set is essential for comparison purposes.
  • Matt Levey from CHOICE presented some concepts for a redesigned SIS which were well-received by the Working Group.
  • Members thought that insurers should be able to provide any other information to consumers in any format and channel the consumer chooses.

7. Regulatory Changes

  • Members discussed other current regulatory requirements for information provision for consumers ‒ premium change letters, the LHC Statement and the Private Health Insurance (PHI) Statement. Members agreed that there was no need to provide the LHC Statement separately and that it could be provided with the premium change letter.
  • It was suggested that the PHI Statement be made optional as the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) holds this information. Members have previously discussed working with the ATO to amend the Tax Pack to let consumers know they didn’t have to include this information.

8. Other options not covered in the discussion paper

  • The Working Group discussed the option of including a prompt about the Private Health Insurance Rebate tiers for consumers on the annual premium change letter. This would provide an annual reminder to consumers whose income may have changed to check they have nominated the correct tier for the purposes of the rebate and Medicare Levy Surcharge.
  • Some members questioned whether consumers would be charged for receiving statement/s through the post. The Working Group agreed that this would not be desirable.

9. Next meeting date

  • The Chair noted that the next meeting is scheduled for Friday, 31 March 2017.

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