Private health insurance premiums will increase by a weighted industry average of 6.18 per cent from April 1 2015, with Health Minister Sussan Ley encouraging consumers to “shop around to get the best deal”.

Ms Ley said total benefits paid to private health insurance members grew by over $1 billion – or 7.4 per cent – to about $17.3 billion in the 12 months to December 2014.

Ms Ley said this was an ongoing challenge faced by successive governments, with Labor approving average annual premium increases as high as 6 per cent during their six years in office.

However, with some individual health funds set to offer below-average premium increases as low as 3.98 per cent*, Ms Ley encouraged people unhappy with their current fund to check out the competition using the Government’s independent comparison website

“Over 13 million Australians now have some form of private health insurance and it’s therefore essential for the health of our nation that we continue to maintain a strong and competitive market,” Ms Ley said.

“To achieve that we must ensure any premiums increases strike the right balance between keeping them affordable for consumers without putting the financial viability of the sector at risk.

“With over 30 private health funds now operating in the Australian market, my strong advice to consumers is shop around to get the best deal if you are unhappy with your health fund’s offering.

“If you want independent advice on health insurance that is free of commissions, link directly to”

Private health insurance benefits paid to members increased by 7.4 per cent from $16.09 billion in the December 2013 Quarter to $17.28 billion in December 2014 Quarter.

The weighted industry average health insurance premium increase for 2014 was 6.2 per cent.

*The full list of average premium increases for individual health funds is available at here.