Millions of health insurance customers are eligible for one-off refunds as soon as September as insurers continue to return savings made during the pandemic from unused claims.
At times during the pandemic, health insurance customers were not able to get elective surgery and social distancing requirements and stay-at-home orders meant many policyholders also were not able to visit dentists, physios, chiropractors and other health service providers as often as they usually would.
This meant insurers have saved a lot of money over the past few years because they did not have to provide cover for these services.
Research by The Australia Institute released in 2020 estimated that the average policy holder was paying $500 to $750 for services they were not able to use during COVID.
At the time, the think tank was among several organisations calling for health insurance companies to return these savings to customers.
“These savings shouldn’t be going to private health profits, they should be swiftly back in the pockets of Australians as we deal with the economic and social cost of COVID,” Dean Price, health campaigner at CHOICE, said back in 2020.
In recognition of the savings they were making throughout the pandemic, some insurers promised to return extra profits through deferred premium increases, cash returns and discounts for members experiencing financial hardship.
Several insurers have already started returning savings made during the pandemic, including AIA Health Insurance, HBF, HCF and nib.
Some cash back payments are due to be paid soon. According to an announcement this week, Medibank and ahm customers with hospital and extras policy will be eligible for up to $620 in cash back payments. Extras only policy holders will be eligible for up to a $145 lump sum payment.
These funds will be deposited in customer bank accounts in September.
The insurance company also said premium increases would be deferred for another month until November 2022.
According to another recent announcement, Bupa plans to hand out payments of between $16 and $118 to around 3.4 million of its customers in October.
These payments will be deposited into customer bank accounts, with the amount paid depending on their policies.
The company has also deferred premium increases for six months until October 2022.
Several other health insurance companies have also postponed premium hikes, which usually occur in April every year.
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