We love The Sydney Morning Herald’s economics correspondent Ross Gittins – especially when he is angry.

And this week, he was – insisting private health cover is a con job (his words, not ours).

He had a birthday recently, and received a bigger private health insurance tax rebate (the lure that got most of us into private health insurance in the first place).

Writes Gittins: “The popular view is that everyone needs private insurance – if only they could afford it. Which about half of us can’t .”

He adds: “The more you do to make insurance affordable, the easier you make it for the people running the health funds, the owners of private hospitals and the surgeons and other procedural specialists who work in hospitals, to raise their prices and fatten their profits.”

And here’s the really telling part of his rant:  “Only 85¢ of every dollar passing through private insurance makes its way to paying for healthcare. And only if you can afford it do you share in the government subsidies taxpayers provide.

“From the customers’ perspective, it’s a con job. Most people under 60 get back only a fraction of what they pay. Often when you do claim you don’t get what you expected, because you don’t get choice of doctor or a private room, you’re caught by ever-changing exclusions from your policy, or because no one warned you about a huge gap payment.”

New figures show that the Gittins view of private health cover is growing.

Fresh quarterly data from the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority shows the percentage of Australians with hospital cover fell 0.2 percentage points in the December quarter to 45.6 per cent – the lowest in seven years – as 12,000 ditched insurance because they believe it is too expensive.

Meanwhile, a new survey by consumer group Choice has found 70 per cent of Australians who don’t have health insurance say it’s because it’s too expensive.

“With premiums up approximately 70 per cent over the past decade alongside of policies with a growing number of loopholes, it is clear private health insurance is no longer a good-value option for many people,” said Choice’s Tom Godfrey.

Royal Commission investigates dodgy car loans

We told you recently about rim and tyre insurance scams by car dealers. Well, it seems their loans are also dodgy.

The Consumer Action Law Centre told the Royal Commission into Banking that there was systematic irresponsible lending” at car yards, and most loan applications were filled in by dealers.

One couple from New Zealand got $20,000 for a car, despite the fact that they had five dependents.  The only cost on their application was their rent.

The dealer sold term $4,000 of rim and tyre insurance too!

And a 56-year-old single mum was given $21,500 despite the fact that she was earning just $450 a week.

The problem is car dealers get commission on the loans (and rim insurance!).

BMW Finance, for instance, was forced to repay $77 million two years ago after the corporate regulator found its sales driven culture created an environment for poor lending.

So you’ve been warned:  spend what you can really afford, and please do the calculations yourself!

Millennials with nothing in their savings accounts

The Reserve Bank’s quarterly survey shows our economy is growing apace.  And while you won’t be getting a salary rise just yet, it IS on the cards.

And it’s sorely needed.

A new survey shows the percentage of millennials with $0 in savings is growing.  In 2017, 46% of millennials (aged 18-24) surveyed by GoBankingRates had no savings, up from 31% in the previous year.

Among older millennials (aged 25-34) 41% surveyed had $0 in savings in 2017.

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