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COVID-19 and private health insurance

COVID-19 Pandemics Private health insurance Public health Australia

The COVID-19 pandemic presents both opportunities and challenges to private health insurers, with short-term and long-term impacts and questions being raised about its role and relevance during this time.

A recent report from the Australia Institute argues that restrictions on non-urgent elective surgery, applying from early April 2020, will likely result in ‘windfall’ profits for health insurers over the next six months. Elective surgery restrictions announced in late March, initially prevented private (and public) hospitals from undertaking non-urgent Category 2 and 3 elective surgeries, in order to ‘preserve resources including protective equipment to help prepare public and private health services to prepare for their role in the COVID-19 outbreak’. Under an historic partnership agreement with the Commonwealth, private hospitals agreed to work alongside public hospitals to address the COVID-19 pandemic, including making their beds and workforce available to treat public patients. In return the Commonwealth agreed to guarantee the viability of the sector.

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