Today’s allegations that the newly-privatised Medibank Private Limited deliberately deceived its members are deeply concerning.
With the Turnbull Government refusing to rule out handing control of the billions of dollars disbursed through the Medicare payments system to private health insurers, claims of any unconscionable conduct in the sector are disturbing.
While the allegations will be tested in court, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has accused Medibank of “engaging in misleading conduct, making false or misleading representations and engaging in unconscionable conduct” by failing to tell Medibank members about a decision to limit benefits paid to members for in-hospital pathology and radiology services.
Labor is particular concerned at the ACCC’s allegation that Medibank deliberately kept consumers in the dark about the change in order to maximise its sale price. If proved, this would mean Medibank members were penalised at the benefit of the Federal Government, with Finance Minister Mathias Cormann publicly stating that the sale raised almost $5.7 billion.
Today’s events come only months after the newly-privatised Medibank reported a massive increase in profit for the first half of the 2015-16 financial year of $271.7 million, up $100 million or almost 60 per cent in just one year.
The Abbott- Turnbull Government consistently failed to make the case for the sale of Medibank, and today’s ACCC action indicates the privatisation has provided no benefit to either the health system or health insurance policyholders.
But critically, today is just another stark reminder of the danger to patients if the Turnbull Government is re-elected and continues to press ahead with its plans to privatise Medicare, putting profits before patients across the entire health system.
Only a Shorten Labor Government can be trusted to protect Medicare.
Mr Turnbull’s plan to privatise Medicare will be the end of Medicare as we know it. Labor will fight these plans tooth and nail.
Authorised by G. Wright, Australian Labor Party, 5/9 Sydney Ave, Barton, ACT 2600