MINOR PRIVATE HEALTH INSURANCE CHANGES LEAVE DESPERATE PATIENTS UNMOVED
It is great to see the Federal Government forced into committing to improving dental care for the most needy whilst improving their budget position through the means testing of Private Health Insurance rebate, said Dr Tracy Schrader, President, Doctors Reform Society.
It is however, disappointing to consider that patients waiting a year to get a hip or knee replacement or a restoration of vision through a cataract operation, will be unaffected by the political games being played in Canberra.
The introduction of the rebate in 1999 had hardly any effect on PHI. The carrot didn't work. The Medicare Levy Surcharge introduced in 1997 to financially punish the rich who didn't take PHI had no effect. The stick didn't work. An easing of the stick by increasing the threshold income for payment in 2009 did not lead to the sky falling in as predicted by the Coalition and the industry. In fact there was an increase in PHI coverage. The stick was a dismal failure.
So the new changes will have minimal effect on PHI coverage. But they will increase revenue for the cash strapped government and, because of the Greens intervention they will lead to some money being dedicated to dental care despite the resistance of the Government.
But the biggest threat to HI and the private hospital industry is a well resourced public system in which the population has confidence. Sadly, the Labor Party, which introduced Medicare nearly 3 decades ago, appears to be quite uninterested in making the public hospital system an attractive choice for Australians. Instead it is more than happy to celebrate an increase in PHI uptake even though the main reason people are moving to private is their fear that the public system is not up to scratch.
It would appear we now have bipartisan support for a two tiered health system.
Dr Tracy Schrader Dr Tim Woodruff
President Vice President
Doctors Reform Society