The government is considering a proposal to allow young Australians to remain on their parents’ private health insurance plans until the age of 30.
The proposal has the support of health funds which saw a decline in membership as a result of higher unemployment due to the COVID-19 pandemic and rising premiums in recent years.
Catholic Health Australia (CHA), a major private hospital operator, wants the rules changed so that family cover can be used beyond the current cut-off age of 25, reported The Sydney Morning Herald.
CHA chief executive Pat Garcia said the measure would help stem the youth exodus from private healthcare by keeping young Australians in the system until they were in a better financial position.
Health fund association Private Healthcare Australia chief executive Rachel David said the change would mean lower overall premiums for families with adult children. She said in an interview with the radio station 3AW, “What we’re finding particularly as a result of the pandemic is people in their 20s have been smashed by this; and for a lot of people, I think it’s a bit of a myth that people in that age group actually don’t claim for things like elective surgery. We get a lot of stuff for people with serious injuries that need ongoing treatment including rehabilitation and mental health claims as well in that age group.
“So on balance, we are supporting this proposal because of the people that are facing record levels of unemployment and a very uncertain future. We think it’s the best way to ensure that they get access to some of those services.”
The latest data from the Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority 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.