A planned private health insurance premium increase has been put back for at least six months.

Medibank, Bupa, HCF, NIB and others have announced they will freeze premiums that were due to rise on April 1.

The increase will be delayed for at least six months due to the financial chaos created by the COVID-19 outbreak.

At the same time, consumer advocates have questioned whether private health insurance is worth it for many people, especially with the cancellation of elective surgery and increased financial pressure.

Consumer advocacy group CHOICE has called for a suspension of the usual penalties for not having private health insurance.

Australia’s Lifetime Health Cover Loading scheme adds 2 per cent per year to future premiums for each financial year that a person over the age of 31 choose not to take out hospital cover.

“Financial penalties for not taking on private health cover must be suspended while Australians focus on securing the basics for their families,” CHOICE Health Expert Dean Price said this week.

“The Australian Government has a chance to provide further financial relief to the community. The Government should quickly change the Lifetime Health Cover loading rules, ensuring that people's financial decisions made at the height of this crisis doesn't punish them down the track,” Mr Price said.