In reference to consumer advocates, Australian are spending more on health care than residents of France and UK amidst a debate over proposed Medicare co-payment.
The report by the Consumer Health Forum additionally said that 17% of health insurance expenditures in Australia are being funded by individual co-payments, and any other expenses will create major barriers to health care access.
In late December last year, a proposal was made to charge $6 for every bulk-billed patient who visited a GP. The health consultant who raised the plan indicated that it was a reasonable measure to keep the Medicare up and running.
Peter Dutton, Health Minister, initiated major reforms in the system saying that he wanted to engage in fearless and frank conversations about the co-payments.
However, during the forum, the national body representing the interests of Australian healthcare consumers raised a red flag saying that if the $6 was not scrapped, it would be disadvantageous to the elderly, low-income earners as well as patients suffering from chronic illnesses.
Adam Stankevicius, the forum’s chief executive said that consumers should not be slugged with extra expenses.
Adam said that they want to have an evidence-based conversation that can significantly impact positively in terms of better financially managing the sustainability of the Australian’s healthcare system.
Noting that their intentions was not to put more burden on the consumers, Adam called on suggestions to improve the healthcare system sighting that there were other more intricate and complex arguments yet to surface.
He said that co-payment would fail in generating cost savings for healthcare system, delay treatments, and reduce health care access for many Australians.
He noted that the elderly people, especially those in pension schemes, are the ones who considered the financial outlay in a serious manner.
As a result, Adam said that they will be the ones delaying the healthcare treatment forgetting that they are the ones in need of the service until their conditions worsen prompting referral to emergency departments.
Co-payments Among Highest
Jennifer Dogget, health policy expert and the writer of the report said that for many people in the community, $6 won’t be affordable.
She noted that after visiting a GP, patients are prescribed medicines and thus have to go to a pharmacy. She reckoned that some tests such as x-rays and pathology tests may require specialist, noting that they will also require co-payments.
Noting that the government has not taken responsibility for co-payments, health funds have to go to ask for more funds from the Minister who is responsible for making the increase; Jennifer argued that consumers will have nowhere to go if they are faced with the increased out-of-pocket expenses whenever medical cases emerge.