IN what may be a first for a private health fund, Mildura Health Fund (MHF) is giving back $6million in COVID claims savings to eligible members.

The money will go to those who held an active hospital health insurance policy as of December 31, 2021.

Mildura Health CEO Gerard Op de Coul said that the decision to return unintended claims savings as a cash payment was the next step in the not-for-profit’s COVID support promise to members.

“From the beginning of COVID we committed to our members as a member-owned, not-for-profit organisation that any unintended claims savings would be returned to members through various initiatives,” Mr Op de Coul said.

“The payments will be available to MHF members who held an active hospital policy on December 31, 2021 and had been a member with MHF for at least three months prior to December 31, 2021.”

Mr Op de Coul said that 13,166 members could expect to receive a payment of between $178.60 and $815.67 depending on their level of cover, with an average payment of $455.72.

“We understand the current cost of living pressures our members are facing, and we hope members who receive the payments are able to use it in a way that is valuable to them,” he said.

“As we have a national membership base, we have calculated that more than $4.2million will be injected directly back into the local community via our members here, who will be able to support local businesses who have experienced a challenging time. We see this as a great outcome for our community.”

MHF member Graeme Tulloch said that he has been with the fund for more than 40 years.

“It is reassuring to know that through my membership that I have choice in health treatment providers and minimal wait times,” Mr Tulloch said.

“The peace of mind I have knowing I can access quality healthcare across Australia, in a timely manner is incredibly important to me.

“With MHF returning cash back to me it shows that the organisation is truly member focused and it is much appreciated.”

MHF has provided a range of initiatives back to their members part of the COVID Support Package that include:
• Deferred premium increase April 1, 2022 for six months to October 1, 2022;
• Deferred premium increase April 1, 2020 for six months to October 1, 2020;
• Roll over of unused extras health insurance policy benefits from 2021 to 2022;
• Allowing members to access telehealth benefits for a range of services; and
• Lower than planned premium increase for 2022.

MHF member Phillip Kettle said that he has private health insurance for peace of mind.

“It makes me feel safe and secure knowing I will have access to health care, when I need it, and MHF returning cash back to me is a bonus,” Mr Kettle said.

Mr Op de Coul said that eligible MHF members will hear from us in the coming week via email and post to advise them how much they can expect to receive.”Our members will receive funds directly to their nominated bank account or by cheque by the end of June,” he said.

“We are proud to be returning funds to our loyal members. We know this cash payment will be great news for our members and it also reinforces that as a member owned, not-for-profit health fund, we are here for the benefit of our members first, not shareholders.”