Some of the most significant health insurance reforms in 15 years are now guaranteed with legislation approved this week.

A range of changes will come into effect in April 2019 that focus on improving affordability and reducing the complexity of private health insurance.

Territory Health Fund CEO, Aaron Newman said “We support the reforms that aim to make policies easier to understand, address affordability concerns and encourage greater youth participation.”

Australia has an exceptional public health care system but at the same time private health insurance is an essential and valuable part of the Australia’s health system.

“Almost half of our population still choose to have private health insurance; it’s about having a choice; choosing when you want to see a doctor, which doctor and which hospital, and in a state the size of Northern Territory, that’s matters,” Mr Newman said.

Some of the changes have the potential to benefit people living in regional and rural areas as insurers will now have the option of offering travel and accommodation benefits for people who have to travel to city or metro areas to access hospital and medical care.

The introduction of gold, silver, bronze and basic categories for hospital cover aim to make it easier for consumers to compare cover and choose a policy that is suitable to their health needs. The reforms aim to provide clarity about what you are and are not covered for – an area that consumers regularly report they find frustrating and at times hard to understand.

Mr Newman says the health fund has maintained continuous membership growth, and has particularly appealed to new younger members by offering hospital and extras cover that can be mixed and matched to suit an individual’s needs. The ability to choose between a range of excess levels that ensure all budgets are considered has also been popular.

“Another element of the changes expected to generate interest is the ability of health insurers to offer youth discounts up to 10% to 25 -29 year olds, with the discounts maintained till age 40,‘ Newman said.