Bupa calls for pensioners to pay more for care

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A shock increase in aged care costs could be included in this year’s Federal Budget if Treasury heeds a call to force pensioners to pay more for nursing home services.

The proposal by insurance company Bupa recommends that the capped value of people’s homes be increased from the current $162,087.20, so those with valuable homes are asked to pay more for care.

The capped value is used in an assets test to determine how much out-of-pocket individuals using aged care will be if they do not sell their home.

On average, the Government forks out about 70 per cent of aged care costs, leaving elderly individuals to pick up the balance.

The company’s suggestion is contained in its 2018-2019 Pre-Budget Submission.

In the submission, the insurer urges the Government to “seek out and carefully consider the views of Australians on the Productivity Commission’s and Tune Review’s recommendations” to hike up the cost of aged services for individuals.

Bupa believes it is necessary “to increase consumer contributions to aged care from those who can afford it, while providing a safety net for those who cannot”.

Before changing aged care funding policy, the insurer “strongly encourages” the Government to consider “at least increasing the capped value of the owner’s home in the means test and increasing the annual lifetime caps”.

The number of Australians aged 85 and over is projected to more than quadruple by 2050 to 1.8 million people, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

However, last year Aged Care Minister Ken Wyatt said that up to 1.3 million people had  received some form of assisted care in the previous 12 months. The Government spends more than $17 billion a year on the sector and Mr Wyatt projected this would rise to $21 billion in 2019.

Bupa argues the future older demographic will stretch demand and spending on nursing care for the elderly. It added that in part, the situation will worsen because of the “expected relative decline in family support and informal carers”.

More than 200 submissions seeking to influence the direction of the Budget have been published by Treasury since September.

Opinion: Aged care costs leave elderly out in the cold

Bupa – a foreign health insurer that collected $6.7 billion in earnings last financial year –  is telling our Government to jack up the cost of aged care for our most frail Australians.

Headquartered in London, and originally known as the British United Provident Association, the company operates 70 aged care facilities across Australia housing 6700 residents.

Bupa’s proposal is designed to save the Government money, it claims. A spokesperson from the company told YourLifeChoices that its recommendation was designed “to grow the pool of money” required to fund aged care services in a climate facing “budgetary constraints”.

Phew! For a minute I thought it was a bald-faced grab for pensioner savings.

However, the lack of transparency surrounding the Government’s method of assessing how much the elderly should cough up remains frustrating.

The system by which the Government decides how much an elderly homeowner should contribute to aged care costs is a total mystery even to many professionals working within the sector.

One such consultant, Jillian Slade of Oasis Aged Care Solutions, told YourLifeChoices the means test is “very complicated”.

“There is no formula, no one rule. Every case is different and it is very difficult for people to understand how much it will cost them to move into aged care when they need to,” Ms Slade said.

“Often, when I meet a client I begin to find out that what they thought would be a clear cut case is not. All sorts of issues complicate their circumstances, such as whether they hold their property under a tenants in common agreement or if there is a surviving partner who continues to live in the family home, and so on.”

It seems that trying to estimate how much care will cost when you are no longer able to care for yourself is like guessing the length of a piece of string.

Before governments and nursing home providers discuss increasing costs for the elderly, it would be useful for the assets test to be more transparent.

As things stand, older Australians are in the dark about their nursing home options. Further,  by the time they have no choice but to move into an aged care facility, their prospects of understanding their financial circumstances are possibly very encumbered.

The Government has been talking about making the aged care sector more sustainable for too long. It is time that it finally spelt out its plans in a way that is less opaque than it has been thus far.

Do you know if you will be able to afford aged care in the future? Do you believe people who hang onto their expensive homes should be forced to pay more in a nursing home?


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Total Comments: 127
  1. 0

    how about the govt pay carers more for the care they give ( I mean those who care for family
    3.50 an hour is slavery

    • 0

      Yes, but I would suggest that is the tip of the iceberg.
      The cost of prescription drugs for some cancer treatments is a year’s salary for just one person’s treatment.
      Its a hard call. We have the ability to keep people alive and the only limiting factor is the cost. So there is the dilemma.
      How many of your friends and family would not be alive now if medicine had not advanced past 1980 – I know of many.
      So what is the solution – I am glad I am not the one making those decisions.

    • 0

      “A shock increase in aged care costs”? Really? So this does not happen every year and health insurance does also not increase every year? Way above inflation as well.
      This is a business and operators are in it for every dollar they can squeeze out of retirees heading to end of life.

      This is the fault of families who do not want to be bothered. How long will it be before families accept that caring for older family members is THEIR RESPONSIBILITY? Maybe when estates are bled dry (the government’s game plan) and the next generation gets nix.

    • 0

      The attitude of the Government and indeed previous Governments, leaves much to be desired.
      There seems to be a brick wall between Governments and the needs of the elderly, common sense is non existent.
      My mother who had virtually nothing after late life divorce, has been in a nursing home at Government expense. She has advanced alzimers, dementia etc, does not know who she is, where she is or who is playing! She is 95 and I am in tears every time I go and see her. But that is another issue I suppose.
      But I cannot make a sensible decision for her to pass on peacefully with respect. She would be a prospect for the Guinness Book of Records, being in a nursing home now for more than 20 years. Now how much has that cost the Government, as she is a pensioner
      and I am not in a financial position to assist her.
      I can see many do gooders screaming about this, but when is a persons self respect going to be an issue for consideration. My sister has the same views.

    • 0

      Some families happy to inherit but not willing to look after their family. Spend it.

  2. 0

    Bupa – I seriously dislike the sound of the name. I wonder if anyone is like me. Its lacks association with a familiar culture.
    Yes, I know that is irrelevant. Increase the cost of aged care and the government will foot the bill and up will go welfare costs.
    I know it sounds awful but the cost of drugs to sustain vegetables is massive. If a patient requests DNR then their must be something that limits family’s authority to override their wishes. I don’t want the protective mechanisms abused however there has to be a limit – surely.

    • 0

      And Bupa wonder why customers are leaving them? There are four in my family alone who have switched recently. Totally agree with you about the DNR…..maybe we need to have it tattooed on our foreheads!

    • 0

      We have avoided being a part of the healthcare system and whilst later age is when illnesses mostly sneak up on people we will accept what comes. Good genes and a healthy lifestyle has seen us mostly incident free.
      We will also be avoiding nursing homes until the bitter end and have already made plans for this.

      If people avoided the private operators the business would not have the corporate structure it has and the greed of operators would not be the driving force of these businesses. Society has itself to blame so pay up or make other arrangements.

    • 0

      Rosret, see later post re my actions on DNR. I have had to cancel all private health cover as it has become totally unaffordable on my DSP. for years I was covered for all, jointly with my Husband of 50 years. when he left the marriage, Medibank Private allowed him to stay on the cover we had had for decades, which included govt rebates. I was told that the policy we had together was no longer available to “new members” and I would have to take out a new policy which was double the cost of the one he was allowed to keep. I left Medibank Private in search of cheaper policy, but even then, after a year of trying to keep, I had to cancel as I simply could not afford it.

    • 0

      “Bump up the charges” Hence, the name Bupa.

    • 0

      Tarabelle, I don’t think they want oldies on private health. We cost them too much.
      PS I would have been calling consumer affairs after that little insurance deal. Did you let the insurance lapse for a while or was it a straight swap that you wanted.

    • 0

      Their name should be “Butch”…

  3. 0

    Once again a headline that is pure sensationalism. In the article that follows it says: “Bupa believes it is necessary “to increase consumer contributions to aged care from those who can afford it, while providing a safety net for those who cannot”.

    So Bupa proposes a safety net for those who cannot afford more.

    Having said all that I feel that the cost of care is already extortionate. However as long as the focus is on keeping us all alive for much longer, the need for care is going to increase.

    We keep on reading about the wonderful research that is being done to extend human life. Why don’t the researchers talk to some old people and find out what living longer is actually like? Most of us don’t want to live on and on with chronic pain and ill health and decreasing quality of life, increasing dependence on others, and the loss of independence and dignity. The money could be better spent on making our lives easier.

    • 0

      Well said Maggie, I for one don’t want to live to 150!
      Bupa is only interested in its own bottom line – profit!

    • 0

      You are absolutely right Maggie. It is not the length, but the quality of life. I have a hard time thinking of the years of increasing chronic pain ahead of me. My pain medication was set at a level over 10 years ago by Dept Health, and my authority states that there will be no increase in this level for another 2 years yet. It is a shame that my condition has not remained at the level it was 10 years ago. Hence I am not in the least bit concerned with longevity. I, as you suggest, am only interested in my independence, and dignity, and how long I can maintain both of these things.

    • 0

      I’ll drink to that. If the grim reaper comes along tomorrow, I’ll not complain.

      Having been born at the best time possible, even if there was a very nasty war going on, the massive improvement in the life style of common people has allowed me to do far more, & have more fabulous life experiences than I even dreamed of in my youth. We have had it better than our kids will, & much better than our grand kids will.

      All that doing has worn the body out a bit, so now finding ways of reducing the physical pain, while still doing a little has become the name of the game. It is only the huge advances in medical science that has kept me here this long. Unfortunately every advance seems to come at even greater cost than the last. I can’t help wondering just how much more we can expect our kids, many struggling in a rapidly changing world, to contribute to keeping us old crocks alive.

      There are huge traps in age care, & they are getting worse. Everyone should do some serious research before the stuff hits the fan, & they have to make quick decisions. My mothers 8 months in care cost us a fortune, because we knew not what we were doing. We paid handsomely for that ignorance.

    • 0

      Thing is like the semi-privatised ‘public’ health system – they get to prioritise on the lines of who will put more into their coffers…. I call it economic triage….. and in healthcare it is an utter disgrace to the medical professions and those purporting to be carers.

      They should all hang their heads in the shame they do not begin to understand.. before we hang them all.

    • 0

      Likewise Maggie.

  4. 0

    If a spouse or a dependent, eg disabled child is not remaining in the family home, it should be sold to provide for aged care. If the home is kept, eg rented out this may affect pensions, if the person was receiving the age pension. This is fair, as the only other reason I can think of, other than the person hoping to return home at some stage, to keep a home would be to make capital gain, usually for the children to inherit. Fair enough, if that’s what people want to do, but they should not expect the government to subsidise this. We had to sell our mum’s home and were glad to do so , so that she could have decent aged care accommodation. Interestingly, if you have no assets, the government, ie the taxpayer is up for the full cost of your care.

    • 0

      That was your mum’s home – you said the family home… not quite the same thing.

      Just saying…. and don’t go selling your spouse, dependent or disabled child….

    • 0

      Trebor, Mum’s home was her family home. I can’t see the difference unless family were still living in the home when the person went into care. We were required to sell it to pay her aged care bond. As I pointed out, if you work hard, have assets, including a home, you must pay, but if you don’t provide for your old age, the government steps in. In some ways quite unfair.

    • 0

      Hmm – yes. If it was mum’s family home. Avoid generalising about people who haven’t worked hard and secure their retirement – this country is full of people who have been and are being robbed of any such opportunity. It will only get worse in the future, and I’m happy that I secured my children’s future at great personal cost.

      If we had a universal pension scheme and a properly organised one-shop retirement packaging scheme out of politician hands, it would be much better all round.

      Australia is still riding on the miner’s back, but it is benefiting very few people in this nation for many reasons.

  5. 0

    I have been looking at the aged care site and was shocked at the charges that providers are quoting like nearly $70 per hour. If you got any of these services privately they would not cost that amount or you could at least seek reasonable quotes.
    $3,500 a year as the base payment from pensioners for care packages is still huge for pensioners.
    I suspect that this is a growth industry and there will be rampant overcharging.
    As for BUPA we left them a few years back. Give them a miss. There are actually good private health insurers. We have one!

  6. 0

    Look ar the recent complaints about retitement homes too! Clearly, the 2018 agenda is to provide the elderly with third world service at first world costs.

  7. 0

    Typical Bupa, They screwed the NHS in the UK,They are screwing their workers in Australia NOW they want to screw the Pensioners!


  8. 0

    Interesting selection of observations here – one contributor is arguing that the carer’s benefit is not enough; everyone basically supports the concept that nurses and aged care workers aren’t highly paid enough; and no-one wants to pay more tax! So how does all that work? If a sole surviving person needs to enter aged care, who pays for it, and who receives the benefit of the family home? The arguments here seem to be that contributors to this discussion are saying the beneficiaries should inherit, and the taxpayer should fork out for mum or dad’s nursing home care. Is that equitable or feasible? I think not! In the ‘old’ days, and certainly in European (and possibly Asian) families, the family would have done its best to care for mum and dad in their final years. These days younger members of families are too busy looking out for themselves and sweating on Oma or Opa (however titled) to fall off the perch and leave them some loot!

    • 0

      I agree. Once they can no longer live in their home, it’s THEIR home so if it needs to be sold to get the best care for THEM, that should be done. Sometimes, families look at it as THEIR inheritance. It’s not. They should be cared for after working their life for it.

  9. 0

    Aged care is so complex. My Aged Care is still being rolled out, I have no idea how long that might take and how many changes are on the cards for our old and infirm. There will be come confusion around this for a good while until the My Aged Care are able to get the settings right. Meanwhile we all struggle with too little information.

    There are folks who live on their own who live in filth because they are unable to take care of themselves. These folks have either no family or family that is estranged for various reasons. There are elderly people where both are very advanced in age and one or both have dementia, trying to manage in their homes. There are families that do their best, some even have to quit their jobs in order to care for their relatives or loved ones. Some try to do it all in their homes, but in many cases this becomes impossible.

    I agree that folks simply do not know what costs they are signing up to, or how their case is handled in terms of criteria. This is for nursing home and home care packages. The Government has tried to provide certainty. But with that certainty comes limits and when the limit is met what happens next??

    Folks who are doing the caring in their homes are saving the country and all taxpayers, piles and piles of money. What if there was a care credit for those who have done as much as they can to keep their loved one at home? It would be nice to see often how much carers are saving the government and better recognition in the community. If they get support and are then able to continue longer and this too saves money. Consumers do put money into the costs of the home care. There are income and assets tests that determine these things. I gather at the moment there is an upper limit to how much any one person has to pay for their care.

    Carers experience a lot of stress and anxiety over the demands of the role they have agreed to, which is basically being personally responsible that their loved one gets the care they need and that the carer gets the kind of support they need to continue. Nobody plans on being completely dependent on others, but this happens.

    If folks have stayed in their home for well over 30 years then that means through no individual fault of their own, their property value has generally gone up. A 30,000 home can end up being a 1.5 million dollar home but it is the same home. This is the fault of the laws enacted by government and the might of the property investment people who seek to make millions by inflating the cost of living in a house.

    As I understand it, the care industry had a huge impact on the new My Aged Care system, had some kind of hand in writing the rules, and it does seem they built in profits. Is it right that a person in need is allocated an amount from My Aged Care that goes into the funds of the provider. The provider has various ways to allocate the use of those funds, the consumer has some choice on who delivers the in home services. In at least some cases, the consumer of the services receives only half or less of the funds in actual in house services, and the rest of the tax payer money goes to the provider to cover their costs and overheads. The provider does have requirements to meet in order to provide services. They do need funds for their in house expenses and to complete the requirements that are in place to ensure all clients are safe, things such as police checks, ongoing training, etc. These in house billed services to the package funds can be in case management, admin costs, or other, plus the hourly rate for a given support service may be almost twice what the actual worked receives. This provides a good bit of flexibility, however at what cost?

    Is there data available that shows how many of these home care packages are charging the consumers half or more of their allocated funds? What kinds of profits are these providers making across the board?

    What happens when a paid worker turns up at a home for a billed 1/2 hour visit and sees a person covered in filth, and they have no food in the house but their package is out of money or they are still on the waiting list for a package? Where does the paid worker go to report this and what gets done about it?? Is this ok for anyone in our society to be living like that?

    What happens when the main carer of a person becomes ill due to the stress and strain of years and years of being in the caring role? Then there are not just one but two people needing support.
    Those who provide in home support services are in business. They have to contain their costs in order to keep the service going.

    Things that support carers save money. We need to know how much of the federal money allocated actually goes to the client in terms of both health care and support. We need to understand how much the hidden costs are in service provision.

    Rosret, I agree it is the tip of the iceburg.

    • 0

      Frankly, when I see nursing home bosses sporting huge diamond rings and wearing expensive hand tailored shirts, I just wonder what kind of service their residents receive.

    • 0

      Linda, do you understand how they are charging pensioners? I have asked but the question was avoided but online it looks like 17 1/2%
      which would put some pensioners into further poverty.
      I also looked at what the service providers are charging for individual services and was shocked to see nearly $70 per hour.
      The overcharging and wasting is a bit of a concern.
      At the moment we can manage with housecleaning and gardening so a package would be a waste for us anyway.

    • 0

      I have heard that it takes 6 months to get an appointment to see about getting a My Age Care package and then 12 months before you even get one.

    • 0

      Grandma, what I think I know is this.

      Each service has the option of how much they charge. That is why, I think they can’t give you an answer. If you don’t have a package but do receive some assistance, then each provider would offer their own charge rates. It may be that the government has set some upper limits. This way of doing things, enables some to perhaps gouge the client while others can charge less because their business plan has that built in.

      The workers, the ones who actually do the jobs get rates starting a little over maybe 20 an hour and as they get experience and time in the rate goes up. The provider may treat them like independent contractors, and pay above that rate plus super or what ever the law requires in that case. if it is a gardener or someone with special skills like OT or Physio or Nursing, etc. then of course our system agrees they get more per hour for their services and the same plan applies if they are in house workers or if they are considered contractors. If the provider starts to use a person from another service it is called brokering. In this case, they charge extra because the person is brokered. So at least in our experience, an in house person would bill the package maybe 30/per hour, but a brokered person would be 40/per hour.

      Every single service has their own system, and they may broker out everyone they use or may not. They can divide up the money via a rate for admin costs and a rate for case management, and other items and there is little legal impediment to predatory practices. Many of the rules are enshrined into law, written in good measure by the industry.

      Our most recent experience was in regard to an issue with wound healing. Our package does not have visiting nurses on their payroll and they have to broker that service out (translates to higher hourly rate to us). What was needed at the time was a visit from a district nurse to refresh bandages and inspect the wound. But because of all the new changes around visiting nurses that option became just too hard. The rules in age care have changed and it is a challenge to keep up with it. It requires some research in order to get the right service at the right cost and that among all the other things can become too hard to do. Of late, good answers are coming from the My Aged Care Call Centre. A year ago it was not very good. They have turned this kind of care into something more like geting a mobile phone or health insurance, research and knowledge are needed and deals can change and all the rest that we have seen in those industries.

    • 0


      There is a set process in place, first one needs an assessment, and that will indicate if one’s is eligible for aged care assistance and at what level. Each level comes with a set amount and again clients do not actually receive services to that value, but instead some lesser value. After the assessment then if eligible your name goes on a list. When a package is available and your name is up on the list, then you may be contacted by a service provider who has an opening for a package.

      That was our process but it may be different now.

    • 0

      Linda The government deliberately makes accessing any kind of care impossible because they do not want to pay out any form of money to people. Pensioners will least afford a decent nursing home

  10. 0

    Re DNR. I have done legal documentation of my wishes – Aged Care Directive – , have copies lodged on file with my doctor, and also wear medical bracelet which informs, DNR, No medical induced coma, and No life support. The same directives are stated in my will, and in Power of Attorney & Appointment of Executor information, so that everyone is fully aware of my wishes stated clearly in all of the legal documentation as above.

    • 0

      Tara belle I think you have taken all the steps you can. Both my parents did the same and both were resuscitated against their wishes. Paramedics will always begin CPR if they are called and then hospitals are forced to carry on. I am determined not to go into a nursing home and when I am ready I’ll end my life with a pre-arranged way.

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