Worrying new analysis published in Fairfax papers today reveals that 1.7 million Australians with diabetes could face new out-of-pocket-costs of $400 each year for the tests they need to monitor their disease.
According to Dr Nick Musgrave, President of Pathology Australia, most pathology services would no longer be bulk billed following the Turnbull Government’s decision cut all bulk billing incentive payments for pathology services in MYEFO.
“These are patients for whom these tests are critical to ensure their condition does not deteriorate” Shadow Minister for Health, Catherine King said.
What is of most concern is that if these costs are passed to patients, it will not simply be the incentive payment that patients are expected to pay upfront but the full cost of each test. Either the Minister for Health did not understand the Medicare rules when recommending these changes or simply does not care about the vulnerable patients who will be impacted.
“We know from data published by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare that the very people who are most likely to be affected by these cuts are those least likely to be able to afford them”.
“The decision to cut more than $650 million from incentive payments for pathology and diagnostic imaging services is cruel, short-sighted and will inevitably be passed onto patients, most of whom simply won’t have the money to pay the full costs upfront”.
If patients do forego these tests it will only make it more difficult for their doctors to provide treatment and deteriorating health that will only cost Australia’s healthcare system more over the long-term.
The leader of the government may have changed but its essential policy remains the same – shifting costs onto patients and destroying Medicare. Such as it is with Malcolm Turnbull’s priorities, it is the least able who are expected to pay the most.