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nib response to proposed cap on health insurance premiums

Responding to the proposed cap on health insurance premiums by the Opposition Leader, Bill Shorten, nib Chief Executive Officer Mark Fitzgibbon described Mr Shorten's position as a dreadful overreaction and as much an attack on the free market and business investment generally as much as it is the private health insurance sector.

"That a future Government would seek to set prices in any highly competitive market is absurd," Mr Fitzgibbon said.

"This may be politically popular but it's an affront to how the free market operates. What next? Food, clothing, car insurance, school fees and petrol? Private insurance is a fiercely competitive sector with 35 health insurers and a number of other companies such as Qantas and Suncorp today offering health insurance," Mr Fitzgibbon said.

Mr Fitzgibbon said if the Opposition was 'fair dinkum' it would work with the private health insurers, private hospitals and doctors to improve competition and efficiency, and relieve pressure on costs and premiums.

"This can't just be about health insurance premiums. All we're doing is paying for the costs incurred by our members in hospitals and other clinical settings. Let's have the proposed Productivity Commission investigation first. It's a classic 'cart before the horse idea'," he said.

Mr Fitzgibbon said prices and the consumer interest are best served by competition not more Government regulation.

"It's especially hypocritical when you consider Government spending has been increasing at a much greater rate than spending within the private sector. It grew 7.4% only last year," he said.

Mr Fitzgibbon said whatever policy changes might lie ahead nib would as it has in the past, continue to adapt and prosper.

"We've been growing our policyholders at a rate of two times the industry average for a long time and today our other adjacent business account for more than 30% of nib's earnings.

"Only time will tell whether this policy will see the light of day and in any case, it's not the first time private health insurance has been kicked around as a matter of politics and ideology. Whatever the case we'll remain committed to growing and providing Australians with rapid access to a world class private healthcare system," he said.

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