The forthcoming round of private health insurance (PHI) premium increases -- touted by the government as the lowest in a decade -- will mean premiums have risen nearly 80% since 2008, far ahead of inflation and a good demonstration of why PHI companies have racked up big profit increases in recent years.

Health Minister Greg Hunt has been touting a likely premium rise of between 3.5% and 4%, around twice as much as recent consumer price index (CPI) growth. An increase of that magnitude will mean that, since 2008, PHI premiums across the industry have averaged 78% growth. It will translate into an increase of about $750 a year for family insurance policies, which cost on average $18,700 a year.