Defence Health is a long-established private health insurer, being one of the first insurers to begin operations when the National Health Act was passed in 1953.
It is a fund dedicated to helping Australian Defence Force members and the broader Defence community to manage their personal and family health care, through timely access to private hospitals and specialists.
The fund also offers general treatment insurance – or ‘extras’ cover – for the everyday health care that helps keep people well. Dental treatment, optical care, physiotherapy, speech and occupational therapy, psychology and podiatry are popular examples.
Eligibility to join the fund is ‘restricted’ to the families of serving members of the Australian Army, Air Force and Navy. Special provisions allow for serving members to cover only their spouse and children (as health care for serving members is provided by the government). Ex-serving personnel, people working in or supporting Defence, and the extended family of these groups are also eligible to take out hospital and extras cover with the fund.
Defence Health is a not-for-profit health insurer, with a focus on maximising benefits for members rather than profits for shareholders or foreign owners. It currently covers more than 300,000 people nationally, through almost 143,000 policies. This represents a market share of around 2% of the total private health insurance market in Australia.
Fewer young people are taking out their own private hospital cover as they come off family policies, and some long-term policy holders are finding the premiums unaffordable and leaving the private sector altogether. Despite the industry trend, membership of Defence Health continues to grow.
Defence Health, like many other not-for-profit funds, keeps its costs low by centralising its service delivery. The fund operates from an inner-Melbourne office and engages with members and prospective members over the phone, online and by email or post. The contact centre is divided into teams trained in sales, claims assessment and general member enquiries. Back-office functions such as finance, marketing, IT and operations are also located in the Melbourne office.
Health insurance is a complex product in a highly regulated industry. Every conversation and member interaction requires a high level of expertise and attention to detail from the customer-facing staff. They must also demonstrate their empathy and knowledge of how the health system works. Defence Health is renowned for its industry-leading customer service. Annual research conducted by Discovery Research consistently reports outstanding levels of customer satisfaction.
The strong and clearly defined culture at Defence Health is firmly embedded and fiercely defended. Staff and management commitment to the corporate values is evident at every touchpoint throughout the organisation. Whether it’s a prospective or existing member, supplier or prospective employee; the values of trust, respect, ownership, excellence and community are apparent.
The values-based culture flows through the organisation from the recruitment process to induction, performance and recognition, staff engagement, management philosophy, and to the insurer’s member-centric service delivery.