CHA says the reported 40% increase in medical benefits paid by health insurers during the last financial year raises serious questions for the private hospital sector.
'An analysis by the Australian Health Insurance Association of recently released private health insurance figures shows that a disproportionate share of insurance benefits goes to medical gap cover', said Francis Sullivan, CHA's CEO.
'But medical gap cover is only part of the story. We've seen increases in nurses wages, the cost of pharmaceuticals, new technologies, allied health services and indemnity insurance, leading to overall inflation of over 5% annually in the health sector', he said.
'Despite positive health fund membership figures, the cost pressures are not sustainable without increased benefits or patient fees.
'With nearly half the population privately insured, how do private hospitals, particularly not for profit hospitals, generate the capital to expand their capacity to meet the growing demand for private health care?
'What measures should be put in place to ensure that all people with private health insurance have equitable access to a comprehensive range of services in the private sector?
'People with medical and chronic illness must have the same access to care as people who need elective surgery.
'Crucial questions remain. A further phase of reform that places access and equity to essential private health care as a number 1 priority and not just a focus on price, is needed.