From the Crikey grapevine, the latest tips and rumours …

Health funds in the dark. We hear from an insider that private health funds are anxiously waiting for the government to release the approved annual increases to the cost of their policies -- an announcement that will soon be overdue by the standards set in earlier years. In previous years the announcement of the rate of claims inflation has been announced early in February, which is when the Private Health Insurance Administration Council's website says the outcome will be known. Last year the figures were actually released in December, so health funds were hoping for a quick outcome. This morning PHIAC told Crikey that the decision was at the Health Minister's office, a claim backed up by insiders who are speculating it must be sitting on newish Health Minister Sussan Ley's desk. So where's the release? It's not due yet, a spokesperson told us, saying that it wasn't required until April 1. It was reported last month that the increase would be announced in February, but the spokesperson wouldn't be drawn on when the announcement could be expected. Premiums are expected to be up 6-7% -- is the government avoiding the announcement to stave off more negative headlines?