A Shorten Labor Government will decrease out-of-pocket costs for life-saving cancer scans by investing $600 million to dramatically expand access to MRI machines and boost Medicare rebates for diagnostic imagining.
Labor’s massive investment in cancer scans – a key element of the biggest cancer care package in Australian history – is equivalent to the average out-of-pocket costs for six million scans.
Many cancer patients require multiple, regular scans over a number of years as part of their journey from diagnosis to remission, meaning their out-of-pocket costs can accumulate to many thousands of dollars.
This can put enormous financial strain on people already going through the stress and trauma of a cancer diagnosis, especially when their illness means they cannot work.
Many people choose to forego these scans altogether because they simply cannot afford it, potentially putting their lives at risk. The ABS has found more than 300,000 Australians skip radiology each year because of cost.
A Shorten Labor Government will tackle these barriers to life-saving scans by scrapping restrictions on MRI machines for cancer patients.
If you need a cancer scan – every MRI machine, in every postcode, will be eligible for Medicare.
Under the current system people can only access subsidised scans on MRI machines that have a Medicare licence.
The College of Radiologists has said these restrictions are having a profound impact: “Patients are facing high out of pocket costs, significant delays while waiting for public access or simply forgoing MR imaging altogether at the expense of their health.”
Labor will lift these restrictions so that all MRI providers that meet minimum quality and safety standards will be able to bill Medicare for cancer services, provided they bulk bill.
This means scans that would normally cost hundreds of dollars will be free.
This would represent the biggest-ever expansion of Medicare MRI eligibility and benefit hundreds of communities across Australia.
Nearly 500 MRI providers that have applied for a licence under the Government – and others – would benefit and be able to provide subsidised scans for the first time.
Labor will also establish a Ministerial Working Group of experts who will work with us to amend or design new MBS items to boost rebates and drive down out-of-pocket costs across all imaging types.
Again, providers would only be able to access these new Medicare items if they are bulk-billed.
We will pay for these new investments in Medicare by making multinationals pay their fair share and closing tax loopholes used by the top end of town.
When everything is going up except people’s wages, the soaring out-of-pocket costs of health care are putting too much pressure on family budgets.
Labor believes access to health care should depend on your Medicare card, not your credit card.
That’s why Labor will invest in more beds, doctors and nurses with our Better Hospitals Fund, cap private health insurance premiums for two years, end Scott Morrison’s Medicare freeze – and fund the biggest cancer care package in Australian history.
More information on Labor’s Medicare Cancer Plan is available here.
THURSDAY, 4 APRIL 2019