ACCC appeals Medibank decision

21 September 2017

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has lodged a Notice of Appeal from the Federal Court’s decision on 30 August 2017 dismissing the ACCC’s proceedings against Medibank Private Limited (Medibank).

The ACCC had alleged that Medibank made false, misleading or deceptive representations and engaged in unconscionable conduct in relation to its failure to notify Medibank members and members of its subsidiary brand, ahm, of its decision to limit benefits for in-hospital pathology and radiology services, despite representing across a number of its communication and marketing materials that it would.

The ACCC also alleged that a reasonable consumer would have understood Medibank’s statements to mean they would be covered for in-hospital pathology and radiology services and not incur out-of-pocket expenses for those services. 

The Court dismissed the ACCC’s allegations, finding that:

  • Medibank’s use of the word “cover” cannot be read to mean “entirely cover” or “indemnify” and is therefore not misleading
  • Medibank did not represent to consumers that it would notify them in advance of detrimental changes to their benefits
  • because Medibank did not engage in misleading or deceptive conduct, it cannot have been unconscionable to its customers

“It is important that the ACCC seeks clarity from the Full Federal Court on this case. In particular, the extent to which it was acceptable for Medibank not to fully inform vulnerable consumers about changes to their private health insurance,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.

Background

On 15 June 2016, the ACCC instituted proceedings against Medibank See: ACCC takes action against Medibank for alleged misleading and unconscionable conduct

The ACCC’s case was dismissed in August 2017. See: Court dismisses ACCC action against Medibank

Release number: 
MR 158/17
ACCC Infocentre: 

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