Insurers back plan for private health plans to cover kids up to age 30
Private Healthcare Australia chief executive Rachel David said health funds would support the change - which would mean lower overall premiums for families with adult children - as "the chances of losing those people because of the coronavirus impact on employment is so high".
The latest data from the Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority released on Tuesday showed the largest net fall in private health insurance membership was among 25-to-29-year-olds, with a drop of 11,176 in the March quarter after accounting for movement between age groups. A sharper fall is expected in the June quarter.
Dr David said consumer research and anecdotal reports of young adults moving home after losing their jobs had health funds seriously concerned after already battling to reverse an exodus of young members before the pandemic.
"With the blow-out we're expecting in elective surgery wait times, our perspective at the moment would be to try and hang onto those people until their circumstances are improving," she said.
Mr Garcia said young people were "living at home longer, getting married later, and starting families well into their 30s", while older Australians were far wealthier than in previous generations.
"It's little wonder that asset-less 25-year-olds, faced with a sky-high property market and flat wage growth, are opting out of the private health insurance system," he said.
Allowing them to delay paying for health insurance until the age "when they can best afford it, and also when they most need it - like when they are thinking of having families of their own" would make the product more appealing, he said.
Currently, health funds generally allow young adults to stay on their parent's policies only if they are under 25, unmarried and earning less than $20,000 a year. They are not permitted to allow adult children over 25 to remain on the family policy.
Mr Garcia called on the federal government to change the rules, saying Australia could not afford for the downward trajectory in private health insurance membership to continue.
"Medicare and the public system simply can't cope with the Amazing demand," he said.
A spokesman for Health Minister Greg Hunt said the government, which is working on its next False of improvements to the private healthcare system, would consider the proposal in more detail in the lead-up to the October federal budget.
Dana is health and industrial relations reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.
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