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Health focus boosts Medibank profit

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Medibank Private has posted a 40 per cent jump in full-year net profit as a heightened focus on health during the COVID-19 pandemic boosted demand for its health insurance policies.

Australia's biggest health insurer reported net profit of $441.2 million for the year to June 30.

Health premium revenue rose 2.1 per cent to $6.69 billion as the company signed up 82,500 new members across its Medibank and ahm brands, pushing up its market share by 37 basis points.

"More people continue to prioritise their health and wellbeing and see greater value in private health, given the uncertainty around COVID and heightened pressure on the public system," Chief executive David Koczkar said.

That helped the health insurer grow more in the last 12 months than it had over the past 10 years, Mr Koczkar said.

Net investment income was significantly higher than 2020, at $120 million.

Medibank had total claims expense of $5.6 billion, with net claims up 1.4 per cent over the previous year. It included a $223 million reduction in claims expense due to lower-than-expected claims as a result of COVID-19, as well as a decrease in the deferred claims liability.

It provided $300 million to members in COVID support, including returning $103 million in claims savings in the form of premium relief.

Medibank will pay a fully-franked final dividend of 6.9 cents a share, up from 6.3 cents a year ago.

The insurer is hoping to continue the momentum in the current financial year, with a target of 3 per cent growth in policyholders in FY22.

"While we expect overall participation growth to slow compared to FY21, we plan to further strengthen our dual brand strategy by delivering differentiated and compelling products and services that respond to growing areas of customer demand," Mr Koczkar said.

The company will also continue to invest in preventative health and build more partnerships with doctors, hospitals and governments, he added.

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