The last two premium increases overseen by the Liberals have been the two highest in a decade. Labor welcomes the closer examination but voters are right to be sceptical. If the minister is serious about reducing the cost of private health insurance premiums she should explain why the two highest increases in a decade were approved on this government’s watch.
Leaving this request until a week before funds have traditionally been notified is characteristic of the Government’s shambolic approach and lack of regard for our health system and people relying on it.
And since coming to office this government’s approach has been to transfer costs to patients at every opportunity: cutting more than $57 billion in public hospital funding; introducing a GP tax by freezing Medicare rebates and cutting billions; potentially ending bulk billing of pathology and diagnostic imaging through $650 million in cuts for bulk billing incentive payments; and cutting hundreds of millions of dollars from adult public dental programs; not to mention ongoing attempts to increase the cost of medicines for every patient.
Australians already pay high out-of-pocket costs for their healthcare by OECD standards, so voters are right to be cynical about this government’s intentions.
And if this government were serious about looking after patients and reducing the cost of private health insurance, the minister should explain the decision to get rid of the Private Health Insurance Ombudsman and the Private Health Insurance Administration Council. Under Labor, an additional $1.4 million was given to the Ombudsman to increase the capacity to manage complaints and respond to consumer enquiries, and $2.3 million was provided to establish the Private Health Insurance Premiums and Competition Unit, focussed on scrutinising premium increases.
Only Labor stands for all Australians having access to the highest quality of healthcare, regardless of their capacity to pay and regardless of where they live.
PHI RISE % 2002-2015