Premium changes at record lows

nib has announced its lowest annual premium increase in 14 years.

From 1 April 2017, nib will adjust its health insurance premiums by an average of 4.48%.

nib's Chief Executive Officer, Mark Fitzgibbon, said it was the third consecutive year that nib has been able to deliver an increase lower than the previous year.

"We know health insurance affordability is a key concern for customers and we're doing our very best to keep premiums as low as possible in the face of ever increasing claims cost," Mr Fitzgibbon said.

In 2016 we paid out $1.4 billion in claims on behalf of 1.1 million Australian resident health insurance customers. This was 5.5% more than the previous year reflecting a combination of customer growth, cost inflation and higher utilisation of medical and hospital services.

"People often compare health insurance premium increases to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) but that measures only the cost of medical treatments. Most of the growth is actually a result of people overall having more treatment," Mr Fitzgibbon said.

Mr Fitzgibbon said there remains considerable scope to ease pressure on future premium hikes some of which relies on further government policy reform.

"Australians enjoy healthcare as good as anywhere in the world. But there are very real opportunities to improve efficiency and I'm optimistic the new Health Minister shares our determination to pursue these. For example, there remains widespread evidence of unwarranted surgery and hospitalisation and overcharging consumers. The ridiculous prices we are paying on behalf of consumers for many medical devices is screaming out for attention," he said.

Mr Fitzgibbon said apart from cost control, nib is looking to increase the value of having private health insurance in the first place.

"For decades people have sought private health insurance for financial protection and quick access to high quality healthcare when needed. We think the digital age is creating ways like never before for us to help people make more informed decisions about their treatment options and choice of doctor. Our leading role in the "trip advisor" style online platform Whitecoat reflects this thinking," he said.

nib encourages its customers to regularly review their health cover to ensure it meets the needs of their current life stage. Free health cover reviews can be done in person at one of our Retail Centres, by visiting nib.com.au or calling 13 14 63.