Teachers Health CEO, Mr Brad Joyce, has responded to comments made by Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) executive board member Geoff Summerhayes, declaring that Teachers Health is rock-solid and here to stay.
Last week Mr Summerhayes delivered a speech at an industry forum, suggesting that only three private health funds will exist and have a sustainable business model by 2022.
However, Mr Joyce has refuted this claim, saying it does not reflect the healthy position that Teachers Health is in and the value that the not-for-profit sector provides to its members.
Strong, stable and continuing to grow
Teachers Health is Australia’s largest industry health fund, covering the lives of over 350,000 Australians, and is continuing to grow according to Mr Joyce.
“Teachers Health is continuing to buck the industry trends. In fact, we saw a growth of 4.1% in the number of people covered by Teachers Health in the last financial year - particularly significant when considered against an industry-wide growth of 0.4%,” Mr Joyce said.
In a sign of strong stability, Teachers Health revenue grew by 7.3% in 2018/19, meaning the fund is well capitalised with reserves at appropriate and stable levels.1
“Teachers Health is adequately capitalised and growing faster than the industry average, so our members can rest assured that they’re in safe hands.”
For context, Teachers Health has $360 million in capital reserves, which is above NIB, one of Australia’s largest health insurers, which has $330 million.
Run for people, not for profits
One of the key points missed in Mr Summerhayes’ speech is the benefits not-for-profit health funds provides to their members, as well as the support they provide to their relevant communities.
“We’re run for our members and are not for profit - that’s why our members receive greater value for money. In 2018/19, we paid out 91 cents (on average) for every dollar of premiums we received,” Mr Joyce said.
Teachers Health paid a record claims back to members in 2018/19, with $635 million in benefits paid to members (up from $595 million the year before).
With a focus on giving more back to members, Teachers Health is also dedicated to supporting the broader education community.
“As the health fund for teachers, we’re committed to making a positive impact on the wider education community. One way we’ve done this is through the Teachers Health Foundation which we established in 2014 to fund evidence-based research that supports the health and wellbeing of the education community.”
Public support for not-for-profit health funds
Industry groups have also come out in support of the not-for-profit sector, including Members Health Alliance CEO Mr Matthew Koce.
“Members Health funds are run for people, not for profits and are not driven by making money out of consumers or returning profits to shareholders and overseas investors. They are driven by the simple objective of providing the best possible health care services for their members,” Mr Koce said.
Australian Private Hospitals Association’s (APHA) CEO Michael Roff has also weighed into the debate, highlighting the need for choice and diversity within private health insurance.
“Far from a declining membership, as Mr Summerhayes claims, we understand smaller health funds have been experiencing increased membership in general, including in younger age cohorts, at the expense of the larger health funds,” Mr Roff said.
Here for members. For good.
Teachers Health remains well positioned to respond effectively to the increasing challenges faced by the private health insurance sector.
“We’re here for members, for good. We’re here for the long run and we’re also here to support their health needs in innovative ways,” Mr Joyce said.
In efforts to improve member experience in navigating their health insurance, Teachers Health has invested in innovative service and technological solutions, as well as alternative models of care including Teachers Healthcare Services.
Teachers Healthcare Services provides evidence-based health management programs and services for eligible members including industry-leading programs Hospital Care at Home, New Family Program and the Mental Wellness Program.
“Teachers Health is proud to offer these services at no extra cost for eligible members, providing coordinated care, education and support to members achieve improved health outcomes.”
The future is bright
Teachers Health is committed to working with the Government, industry bodies and, most importantly, members to ensure the industry continues to grow and remain viable.
“Like all industries, we face challenges from time-to-time, but the need for the public and private health systems to work together is vital for all Australians. Teachers Health looks forward to being part of the solution,” Mr Joyce said.
 Teachers Health, Annual Report 2018/19, teachershealth.com.au, P6
 APRA, Operations of Private Health Insurers Annual Report 2018-19, Table 2: Statement of financial position
 Teachers Health, Annual Report 2018/19, teachershealth.com.au, P9