HCF profit up despite rebate cuts

One of Australia's biggest private health insurers, HCF, has rued the former government's decision to slash rebates for private insurance but tipped increased revenue and membership numbers this financial year.

One of Australia's biggest private health insurers, HCF, has rued the former government's decision to slash rebates for private insurance but tipped increased revenue and membership numbers this financial year.

Owned by its members, HCF increased membership and net profit in 2013, despite the "less than supportive environment".

Health policy numbers grew by 4 per cent to 662,256 and net premium revenue grew by 10 per cent to $2.1 billion. But staff numbers and branch numbers fell, the company said in its annual report.

Managing director Shaun Larkin said: "Significant legislative changes to private health insurance during the last parliament will make the cost of health insurance to many Australians considerably higher than it has been. These legislative changes are now in varying stages of implementation, and the impact on HCF has been obvious."

The previous government began means testing the private health insurance rebate, and introduced other measures, in a bid to cut the cost of the rebate.

This led to stark increases in premium costs for many members, although the latest industry figures show 47 per cent of Australians have hospital only cover and 55 per cent have "extras".

Still, the Private Health Insurance Administration Council figures show profit for the industry fell by 12.6 per cent to $1.32 billion over the year to September. Insurers' premium revenue grew by an annual 7.1 per cent, PHIAC said, but benefits increased 9 per cent.

HCF reported a $106.5 million net profit in 2013, up 26 per cent.

HCF, which also has life insurance and retirement care businesses, said it has a positive outlook for the 2014 financial year and beyond.

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