ULTRA-RICH Australians might perversely retain the government rebate for private health insurance through complex tax structures, industry and accounting experts say.
Andy Sheats, chief executive of new health insurer health.com.au, said high-net-worth individuals might not lose the rebate, whereas those on lower incomes would.
"The irony is that the truly rich, actually they'll be fine, because the truly rich have everything set up in structures and trusts and all of that and they'll probably still get the rebate," Mr Sheats told BusinessDay.
"It's really kind of the middle-class professional who's much more likely to be affected. The perverse thing is that the really rich people that you read about . . . probably are actually going to be fine anyway."
Health.com.au is offering potential policyholders the ability to lock in the current 30 per cent rebate for a prepaid period, as well as avoid the fund's annual premium rate rises over that time.
But Mr Sheats said for the very wealthy this offer was not relevant.
"There's an irony in this. I was talking to one person about it and [saying] 'it's a great opportunity, you can save all this money on your tax because you're going to lose the means test'.
"And this guy is quite wealthy and he says, 'well no, I won't actually because I have no income'."
Under the changes to be introduced next month, private health insurance rebates are reduced for singles earnings more than $84,000 and families earning more than $168,000. They are removed altogether for singles earning more than $130,000 and families on more than $260,000.
Paul Drum, head of business and investment policy, CPA Australia, agreed there was an opportunity for ultra-rich people to circumvent the cap through complex structures such as family trusts or the use of corporate beneficiaries.
But the opportunity was limited only to people's business or investment income, rather than personal income, Mr Drum said, and therefore only applied to people at the fringe. "Directors who pull $1 million in directors' fees, they can't split that," he said.
Insurance comparison site iSelect has said that lengthy prepaid periods could lumber people with policies that were no longer appropriate for them.