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PRIVATE HEALTH INSURANCE
Private health insurance is additional health cover to that provided under Medicare1, to reimburse all or part of the cost of hospital and/or ancillary services incurred by an individual.
In 2014-15 there were 10.1 million adult Australians with private health insurance (57.1% of all people 18 years and over). This was the same rate as in 2011-12, but an increase from 2007-08 (52.7%).
Source(s): National Health Survey, 2001, 2004-05, 2007-08, 2014-15 and Australian Health Survey, 2011-12
Of all people with private health insurance, most (79.3%) had both hospital and ancillary cover, while 11.7% had hospital cover only and 7.0% had ancillary cover only. This pattern was similar to 2011-12 and 2007-08.
Levels of private health insurance membership varied by age, with people aged 55-64 years having the highest coverage (64.4%). Only around half of those aged 18-24 years (49.2%) and those aged 25-34 years (51.7%) had private health insurance.
Levels of private health insurance membership also differed across a range of other demographic characteristics. High rates of private health insurance ownership were evident among people who were employed (62.5%), were in couple households with, or without, children (63.6% and 64.6% respectively) or with a non-school qualification (64.0%). There were lower rates of private health insurance ownership for people who were unemployed (32.2%) people born in Oceania (other than Australia) (42%), or in North Africa and the Middle-East (41.9%), and for those with a profound or severe core activity limitation (40.4%). People living in areas with relatively high levels of socio-economic disadvantage had the lowest levels of private health insurance in Australia (33.6%), while people living in areas of low disadvantage had the highest levels (79.4%).
Footnote(s): (a) Index of Relative Socio-Economic Disadvantage: a lower Index of Disadvantage quintile (e.g. the first quintile) indicates relatively greater disadvantage and a lack of advantage in general. A higher Index of Disadvantage (e.g. the fifth quintile) indicates a relative lack of disadvantage and greater advantage in general. See Index of Relative Socio-Economic Disadvantage in the Glossary.
Source(s): National Health Survey: Health Service Usage and Health Related Actions, 2014-15
REASONS FOR HAVING/NOT HAVING PRIVATE HEALTH INSURANCE
As it had been in 2011-12, 'Security, protection and peace of mind' was the most common reason for having private health insurance in 2014-15, with two-thirds (67.9%) of all people with private health insurance giving this reason. Other common reasons included 'allows treatment as private patient in hospital' (47.3%) 'Provides benefits for ancillary services/"extras"' (43.2%) and 'Shorter wait for treatment/concern over public hospital wait lists' (42.9%).
In 2014-15, the most common reasons for not having private health insurance were 'cannot afford it/too expensive' (60.9%) and 'Medicare cover sufficient' (29.1%).
1. Australian Government Private Health Insurance Ombudsman, 2017, Health insurance explained, <http://www.privatehealth.gov.au/healthinsurance/>, Last accessed 27/01/2017.
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