Funds must cut ‘lifestyle’ rebates

Private health insurance funds will no longer offer cover for items such as golf clubs and running shoes following a Federal Government decree that these don't deliver direct health benefits.

Health Minister Kay Patterson said a deal agreed with the health funds means that some “lifestyle” benefits will be phased out. These include sporting clothes, shoes and equipment, outdoor recreation items, and musical equipment.
This won't mean cheaper premiums for members, however, according to the funds.

Funds have come under criticism in the past for paying out on some dubious lifestyle benefits while at the same time increasing premiums – with another hike just around the corner. Medibank Private said, however, that benefits paid out on lifestyle items were “absolutely miniscule” compared with ancillary benefits such as dental.

Certain other ancillary benefits will continue to be covered. These include quit-smoking programs, weight-loss and stress management, women's health, asthma education programs, and gym memberships if part of health programs.