Increase in Private Health Insurance excesses
Legislation has been passed by Parliament to implement the Private Health Insurance (‘PHI’) reforms announced by the Government in October 2017.
The measures are designed to simplify PHI and make it more affordable for consumers by improving the value of PHI either in the form of lower premiums and/or improved cover for certain benefits.
Of particular interest from a tax perspective is the increase in the maximum voluntary excess levels for products providing individuals with an exemption from the Medicare levy surcharge.
The increased levels of voluntary excesses that insurers can apply are:
- $750 (up from $500) in any 12-month period for singles; or
- $1,500 (up from $1,000) in any 12-month period for couples/families.
These increases will apply from the 2019 income year, with private health insurers permitted to offer products with the new higher excesses from 1 April 2019.
This is a positive change, as the excess levels have not changed since 2000. Whilst there is no requirement for consumers to move to products with higher excesses, it is expected that more affordable PHI will encourage more people to take out cover.