The Turnbull Government’s move to abandon lifetime community rating for Private Health Insurance should sound alarm bells for every heath fund member in Australia.
While the minister is focussing on smokers, she is clearly opening the door for health insurance to be levied on the basis of risk.
If the poll endorses charging smokers more for health insurance, how long before the government moves to look at charging people more based on their age, weight, alcohol consumption, general fitness, genetic testing or family history of cancer?
Labor will look at any actual serious proposal to make health insurance better for consumers, but any move to scrap community rating and price health insurance based on risk will simply shift the most seriously ill patients on to public hospitals.
Contrary to the minister’s scaremongering, private health insurance membership continues to rise, covering a record 47.4% of the population in the year to June.
A government serious about making health care more affordable would not have slashed half a billion dollars from preventive health programs designed to tackle smoking, obesity and other health concerns.
A government serious about improving health outcomes would not be imposing a 10 or 15% GST on fresh food, making junk food more attractive and adding to Australia’s already high rate of obesity and diabetes.
Yet again this government’s only answer to everything in health is to work out how it can make people pay more, whether it is through a GP Tax, $60 billion in cuts to public hospitals or by approving the two highest increases in health insurance premium in a decade.