Australian taxpayers are footing the bill for unpaid medical expenses left behind by backpackers and foreign tourists, according to The Sydney Morning Herald.
Visitors to New South Wales are leaving the biggest bills, with a recent report revealing that in 2018–19, NSW Health had charged $113.6 million to patients ineligible for Medicare rebates. Less than half of that was paid back and $19.7 has already been written off.
Tax-funded hospitals are the ones who end up covering the outstanding bills.
“That puts enormous pressure on the budget,” said NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard. “I am quite concerned, because that money would buy a lot of additional nurses and doctors.
“We will always look after those who come, but it’s not fair that Australian taxpayers should happily pick up the tab.”
NSW also has a higher rate of hospital expenses from international visitors compared to the rest of the country, with around 16,000 Medicare-ineligible people needing hospitalisation in the state each year, some with bills as high as $200,000, says the health minister.
Were you aware that you’re covering medical costs for errant tourists? How should the government/system deal with this?
If you enjoy our content, don’t keep it to yourself. Share our free eNews with your friends and encourage them to sign up.