1st Mar 2017
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Healthcare is costing us $28.6 billion per year
A pile of medicine pills heaped on Australian notes

You probably don’t think you shell out your hard-earned dollars for something you don’t use. Think again. As consumers, Australians contribute almost one in every five dollars spent on healthcare.

Furthermore, we are spending $21 billion each year on health insurance premiums. Personal spending on out-of-pocket health expenses is costing us about $28.6 billion per year. This includes $3 billion on hospitals, $5.5 billion on dental care and an additional $11 billion on medication.

Data shows that, increasingly, we are funding much of our own healthcare using out-of-pocket payments. Data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare shows that out-of-pocket payments increased four-and-a-half times faster than government funding in 2014–15. Among wealthy countries, Australians have the third-highest reliance on out-of-pocket payments.

The rising out-of-pocket costs mean that many Australians simply can’t afford to get the healthcare they need, or they must choose to forgo it altogether.

Estimates suggest that in 2014–2015, the cost associated with seeing a GP meant that one in every 20 people skipped or delayed a visit, despite requiring medical attention. Research undertaken by James Cook University and the NSW Bureau of Health Information in 2016, found that almost half of Australians living with depression, anxiety and other mental illnesses skipped therapy or medication due to cost.  

The US healthcare system is notorious for its affordability flaws. Yet, out of 11 countries, only the US surpasses Australia when it comes to people skipping healthcare due to cost.

“In terms of skipping care we perform much worse than Canada and New Zealand, certainly the UK and Sweden,” said health economist from the Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine, Emily Callander.

Compounding the issue, in what Dr Callander calls a “vicious cycle”, in Australia and internationally, the people who struggle most to pay for health services are also most likely to have chronic diseases.

“Those with chronic conditions are more likely to have lower incomes and less wealth because of the exacerbating effect of their condition and their ability to participate in the labour force,” she said.

What do Australians do when they can’t afford essential healthcare services? They turn to discretionary health options. Australians spend more on vitamins and supplements than on prescription drugs. Roughly one-third ($9.3 billion) of what individuals spend on health, goes on over-the-counter vitamins, supplements, painkillers and other unsubsidised drugs. This adds up to more than the combined amount we spend on hospitals and dental care.

Yet, a CHOICE study has recently thrown doubt on the efficacy of complementary medicines and supplements. Around seven out of 10 Australians take some form of supplement, but health experts say there is very little evidence to show that they work.

While Australia has one of the most efficient healthcare systems in the world, the year-to-year financial stress of paying for healthcare is an unavoidable reality. Another reality, is that we are, in fact, willing to pay for discretionary health items that may or may not provide any benefit.

Read more at SMH.com
Read more at theconversation.com

Opinion: Where is our value for money?

With health insurance premiums set to rise yet again on 1 April, the debate about healthcare equality has never been more important.

Families will soon pay up to $200 more per year, and singles up to $100 more each year, further contributing to household financial stress.

Despite the Government insisting that the 4.8 per cent premium hike is the lowest seen in 10 years, it ignores the fact that this equates to a cumulative increase of 28 per cent since 2012. In other words, if you were paying $2000 for your premium in 2010, you’d now be paying $3000.

Considering how much you’ll probably spend on out-of-pocket expenses and over-the-counter health items, does this sound justified to you? Where precisely is your value for money?

Australians are paying more than ever for private health insurance but we seem to be receiving less and less. Health funds also need to be held accountable, since many customers aren’t completely aware of what they are paying for. Lack of transparency about what is covered, waiting periods and exclusions only exacerbates the problem.

What do you think? Is health care a cost you’re increasingly unable to afford? Are you considering switching health insurers before 1 April? Do you feel you make the most of the services offered by your current fund?

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    COMMENTS

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    Jannie
    1st Mar 2017
    10:48am
    I was privately insured but now on age pension cannot afford it any longer. So I have to go public and that is a nightmare due to the over population in the Northern suburbs of Melbourne, hospitals are grossly under funded and cannot cope with the large numbers needing their services. All aspects of government have to look at the big picture, and be exposed to what is actually happening out in the suburbs, the infrastructure is falling apart, and is not coping with the increase in population.
    john
    1st Mar 2017
    10:53am
    And they want to bring in more people. Some coming in with nothing , and Australia still rips off its own people.
    buby
    3rd Mar 2017
    1:23pm
    indeed Jannie, its not just happening over there its happening in the western suburbs too?
    And its been happening for years, Cause the Politcians have been telling us porkies.
    They are sending 10 mill i heard to malaysia, and funding other country.
    OH hell have they forgotten we have hospitals that need to be funded??
    Me thinks they are too busy funding their own pockets!! and or sending much overseas where it does not belong?
    WE need to change this by ousting them out of their jobs.
    The only way is the vote smarter at the next election.
    YEs JOHN I been taking mental notes, and its been happening for years, why aren't the oldies taking any notes if they can't remember when they get to the polling boothes who they must vote out. They are getting lazier than ever.
    WE much change our POLLIES, they must hear us.
    They are getting too blase'
    john
    1st Mar 2017
    10:52am
    My private health care is costing me too much. This is what happens when the Liberals privatised it or partially did, now it is a profit making organisation, with highly paid CEO, and with condition after condition , and it is mixed in with Medicare cross overs , now they say medicare has a waiting list, well under private health I took six months to get elective surgery.They are rising the premiums which is almost laughable , they always say the costs of medicine is so high but they never ever give any proof that the millions and millions they draw in is all used up. When a 1 million plus CEO is paid that kind of money ? Well I do not believe anything they say, I believe they make huge profits and this article is perfectly correct when it says that lots of that money goes unused by the customer because it is huge premiums that you don't often use. AND PEOPLE WHO DO USE IT OFTEN ARE IN THE MINORITY.
    Also my top cover costs me $4030.00 per year last year my operation costs to the private surgeon was out of Medibank cover about 2600.00 dollars, Xrays etc were covered but not totally by medicare, some physio by Medibank but I still paid some of it.
    So this is the greatest rackett ever done by non criminals.
    Watch the spokesman come out and tell rubbish about why they need to lift premiums or WHY THEY EVEN NEED PREMIUMS THAT HIGH, perhaps the private health funds will all die off, because they appear to all be priced way over what they are worth. I'd love to know the amount of money Medibank takes in fortnightly ?
    tia-maria
    1st Mar 2017
    11:41am
    Yes John the Liberals put an levy on the health insurance which its totally out of control.........if they take that levy away many would still be able to afford a health fund
    sunnyOz
    1st Mar 2017
    12:40pm
    Totally agree John - premiums go up and up, yet cover goes down and down. I need to see a specialist for a very rare condition - is the only Dr in Qld I can go to - and the gap between what I pay and what I get back has plummeted from 82% to now current 36% in 5 years. What next - down to 5%? What the hell? That gap is straight out of my pocket - almost the weekly rate of an aged pension! So what do I do? - don't get treated, give up health cover, and end up waiting on the Public list for treatment? I am damned if I do and damned if I don't.
    What absolutely galls me the most is that I have tried and tried and tried to get health cover to cater to MY needs, not a youngster trying to get pregnant, or reproductive facilities, or someone who wants weight loss surgery, etc. I tick all the boxes that I want to get covered for - deliberately NOT ticking the above boxes - yet the ONLY cover I can get DOES include all of the above!! I am mid 60's - not interested in ANY of those! Why is it that because I want LESS procedures covered, I actually have to pay more?
    From a very early age, in economics, finance, maths and accounting - I was told to work on quantity. LOWER the rates and you will get more people joining. INCREASING the rates to make up for those who are leaving in droves, only means that those left have to pay more. And new people will not join with the prices as they are. I have always said - 'being healthy is only for the wealthy'. But maybe that is what the govt is secretly aiming for - sick people die earlier. No pension to pay!
    buby
    3rd Mar 2017
    1:31pm
    YOu know i often wonder its probably the doctors who also help to waste money too. Cause if your bulk billed and have to have MRi's done, and Scans etc. IT all costs money, and if they doctors don't get it right, they too help to rip off the government so to speak.
    I'll explain. I had a simple problem, a torn ligament, i had to go through 3 doctors, and do all the same tests over with each one.
    Now thats costly. OR so they keep telling us?
    NOw by the time i hit the third doctor, and she was able to tell me what the problem was, was i then able to make an informed decision on the step i had to do next.
    NOw why didn't the previous doctors do that?
    So whats gone wrong there, Now i'll leave you all to think about that one.
    Communication is one problem.
    Next is getting the problem fixed. Now cause our hospitals are in such a disarray. and WHOSE caused that, "lack of funding"??
    I must wait for flaming ages probably to get it fixed, cause i'm not a working person. If your a working person, You would get it fixed within a couple of weeks probably. HUH NO wonder we are so worked UP and pissed off without system. The pollis have caused this, by not looking at the priorities. And looking after the BIG companies, and not us, and sending our money overseas, not looking after us.....This Has REAlly got to STOP
    pedro the swift
    1st Mar 2017
    11:00am
    I cannot see how the med. funds can justify the huge annual increases in fees and still reduce benefits. This is what happens when you privatise services like this. The companies are FOR PROFIT nothing else.
    It will go on till very few can afford health cover. Is it Euthansia by stealth?
    buby
    3rd Mar 2017
    1:51pm
    Euthansia by Stealth! Yes who knows Pedro?
    floss
    1st Mar 2017
    11:15am
    Due to the Liberal Party taking our pension away the private health insurance will go .Smart m
    ove Mal. Yes immigration is a huge problem starting about the finish of the Vietnam war.Pensioners are the new poor.
    Jannie
    1st Mar 2017
    11:35am
    Agree with you looney. Due to the increase in population hospitals are at breaking point, the pollies need to get out and about they are out of touch. They sit in their ivory towers on huge wages and are oblivious to what is happening in the big wide world.
    Old Geezer
    1st Mar 2017
    12:17pm
    Well looney it looks to me like you hurting yourself to spite someone else. Spend a little capital and pay for it instead of whinging and going without so others can go on a spending spree after you die. Whoa Disneyland here we come.

    Why not just get a policy with a bigger excess and pay less? Or pay for it before April and get last year's rates. I do.
    Travelling Man
    1st Mar 2017
    12:23pm
    Hi looney and Jannie,
    Health indeed is a conundrum. Private insurance is virtually essential for urgent hospital specialist treatment as one can wait months or years for elective surgery on the Public Health system. However as Private Health contributions increase more people are forced to drop out through lack of affordability and the Private Health organisations then increase member contributions to make up the shortfall. The system is further aggravated by people using the Hospital Emergency Departments for minor complaints. We need input by politicians. who speak from the heart, such as Nick Xenophon and Jacquie Lambie to help find an equitable solution as both the Coalition and Labor are out of touch with ordinary people. Meanwhile the Government is spending billions of dollars on State of the Art warplanes and submarines while the standard of living for many people is deteriorating.
    Ted Wards
    1st Mar 2017
    12:55pm
    Your health is your responsibility not the governments. Health insurance does not improve your health. If you require emergency hospitalization or surgery you get it under Medicare. If you have high blood pressure and cholesterol, change your diet and exercise more. If you have diabetes type 2 and its not age related, its a lifestyle issue, so ensure you have a more productive and healthy lifestyle.

    Prevention goes a long way in reducing your health bill. Be proactive and stop trying to blame the government, any government, for your lifestyle choices. If your now paying the price for years of living a sedentary life, then make changes and your health will improve. Pills only cause more complications and problems in the long term and you are just making the big pharma company shareholders richer!
    Oldman Roo
    1st Mar 2017
    10:06pm
    Ted Wards , I can only see some lack of understanding of health problems with your comments .
    We are not all young and capable of enough exercise any more to avoid serious health issues and you may find out what that is like one day .There are are also far too many health issues that come that do not come under emergency hospitalisation for elderly and they are causing a lot of pain and suffering but have waiting times that are totally unacceptable . If one treated a dog or cat like it , it would be a matter of criminal charges .
    So do not generalise with comments that would only please our LNP Government .
    Bonny
    2nd Mar 2017
    6:48am
    I agree with Ted Wards all ailments are the result of one's poor health management and one's failure to say no to big pharmas poisons. Eat well, exercise and be positive and you will love a long healthy life.

    Yes folks all that whinging I read here is bad for you.
    OlderandWiser
    2nd Mar 2017
    7:15am
    Bonny, you are displaying ignorance, arrogance and a complete lack of empathy. Yes, many health problems - maybe most - are a result of poor lifestyle choices. I agree that big pharma peddles poisons. But it is NOT true - and it is very cruel - to suggest that ALL ailments are a result of poor health management. Many are inherited. Many result from accident. Some result from poor health care at a stage in life when the person had no choice as to their diet and/or health care. Some result from violent abuse or psychological abuse. Psychological abuse renders some unable to make wise lifestyle choices.

    Decent people have empathy and compassion and are open-minded and respectful.

    That said, there is a lot the government could - and should do to reduce health costs. But greed gets in the way. It's all about profit!
    TREBOR
    2nd Mar 2017
    5:26pm
    I was a fit as a fiddle, literally running day and night and thin and hard as a rake, Bonny, and over the hills and far away - and developed the family heart condition at 51 - a total surprise to me.
    Oldman Roo
    2nd Mar 2017
    7:11pm
    The Bonny comment is the usual Liberal diatribe where nothing is sacred and they would literally walk over dead bodies to exploit or eradicate the less fortunate in life .
    buby
    3rd Mar 2017
    2:04pm
    Ted Ted Ted! and Bonny, most okay i would say up to the individual, but you if you don't have fresh air to suck in on your daily walks, YOU don't want to walk? Because you feel sicker after it?
    So pollution plays a big part also, and if they pollies not all got their foot in the door, and don't comprehend you must have a balance in life to live it well, what the hell are we suppose to do about it. and i'm getting fatter by the day sitting here in my dog box, cause they are trying to build densely, and we are all squashed in together. and all around me, the houses are being ripped out of the ground, and dog box among dog box is being built, and its all adding to my pollution, and i can't breath, i'm asthmatic and i didn't ask for that? But its being caused here in melbourne where they are trying to fit so many in, via the acre?and i do eat well try to keep my sugars down, but i'm in pain, i wheeze every night i'm not sleeping, that along is a drag on soceity, cause i can't work like that, and i will die sooner, just knowing that does please me at all. SO Where does the Problem LIE.......it lies at the top, Cause they are being more blase' than ever. About everything, about pollution, about where our money should go, they send more to malaysia via the UN, than fund our hospitals. NO wonder we have such long waiting lists?? REally Somebody needs to wake UP from their Stupor!!
    Old Man
    1st Mar 2017
    11:45am
    We have health insurance and have had it since starting work way back when. We object to the apparent rorts within the private hospital system which appear to be driving health care up and therefore health insurance premiums. A recent study showed that a replacement knee in the public system costs about $1100 and the same knee in a private hospital is costed at about $6500. This is gouging at its worst and it matters little whether the manufacturer or the private hospital is doing the gouging, the bottom line is our premiums are going up at a greater rate than CPI.

    As I have posted here before, why do health insurers feel the need to sponsor sporting teams at a cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Those funds could very well be more sensibly used in keeping premiums down. I read that a CEO claimed that sporting sponsorship fell within the allowed budget for marketing which is just ridiculous. Is the budget set and then marketers look around to spend it or do the marketers find somewhere to spend money and ask for a particular sized budget. Either way, it's the members money being spent on nothing to do with health care. If premiums were lower than other health insurers with the same or better items included, minimal advertising would be needed.

    All of the crap about gym membership, running footwear and natural medicines being paid for by health insurers is just that. If anyone chooses to take complementary medicines they should pay for that choice. Sure, some supplements are recommended by doctors but most are not. Most are "feelgood" items which are less than useless in treating most ailments yet health insurers give them credibility by subsidising people who use them.
    TREBOR
    2nd Mar 2017
    2:52am
    The company needs to feed the shareholders and the CEO - didn't you know that private enterprise is more efficient? You cost of electricity and gas will tell you that, surely (retains tongue in cheek)...
    OlderandWiser
    2nd Mar 2017
    7:21am
    I agree with that Trebor, and with much of what Old Man says also. But I think funds should be MORE generous - not less - when it comes to natural remedies and alternate medicines. No, supplements are not recommended by doctors, because doctors don't profit from prescribing them like they do from dishing out poisons. You have to be very careful which supplements you take, but many work a treat and are far more beneficial to health than the rubbish doctors dish out at high cost.

    I do think the running footwear and gym membership is ridiculous. I objected strenuously, when I had private cover, to the fund offering trips to SeaWorld and popular movies. That's NOT what health insurance is for and they shouldn't be increasing premiums to offer those sorts of ''benefits''.
    Old Man
    2nd Mar 2017
    10:47am
    Rainey, our doctor recommends that we both take a vitamin D supplement. He is not against natural remedies but has a warning that some natural remedies react badly with prescription medicines. He asks us to consult with him should we want to use a natural remedy, not to stop us but to ensure it is compatible with our prescription medication.
    TREBOR
    1st Mar 2017
    12:07pm
    Cost of petrol, and I get that back......
    Nan Norma
    1st Mar 2017
    12:25pm
    1st Mar 2017

    I have never had private health insurance. I have been happy with my treatment from my GP and local hospital. I saw a list in the paper recently of the payments paid to hospital specialist. It is no wonder the hospitals never have enough money no matter how much funding the government provides. To me this seems to be happening everywhere. This enormous greed.
    The government has hit pensioners, now they are taking money away from people that provide weekend services, (except plumbers and electricians that change the earth.) Who next? Lets not even start on the post office.
    Little red dragon
    1st Mar 2017
    12:33pm
    Up to $200 per year increase for a family? Try $360! And as a couple there are only two of us, but we have to pay the same as a family (double a singles cover) Government backed daylight robbery!
    Bonny
    2nd Mar 2017
    6:52am
    You can just pay for a couple without family. I saw one of those policies the pther day. It may have also included travel insurance. I have a family policy as I have a grandchikd living with me and they are under 25.
    Ted Wards
    1st Mar 2017
    12:49pm
    There was a fantastic movement in the late 1980's and early 1990's called primary health care. This focused on preventing lifestyle associated issues from occurring by people having the view of prevention rather than cure.

    Everything we put into our mouths affects our health, all our activity affects our health now and in the long term and we need to take responsibility and stop this attitude of "ill pop a pill".

    Studies also show that tablets like vitamin C are asorbic acid and our bodies do not utilise this form of vitamin c easily. We need to go back to eating more organic fruit and veg and stop buying into marketing rubbish and labeling.

    Its not in the health industries interest for us to take a more preventative view of health as their profit dives. So as you are buying all your supplements etc, just think of where the money is going and what else you could be doing to improve your health without supplements etc. Your health does not have to be bad because you can't afford private health insurance. In fact your health will only benefit if you prevent issues from arising and dont need insurance!
    Bonny
    2nd Mar 2017
    7:01am
    Ted you are right. Unfortunately laziness comes at a cost so get off your posteriors folks and eat proper food, excercise those idle bodies and create laughter lines with positive thinking. Cut out the middle man on all big pharmas poisons and little pharmas ones too as they do more harm than good.

    I take no poisons and none of that vitamin rubbish either myself. Doctors feel obliged to write one prescriptions these days and I just file them in the bin. I then laugh when doctor says how well I am and their magic potions work. It's all in your mind folks big pharma has power over your mind not your body.
    OlderandWiser
    2nd Mar 2017
    7:28am
    Partly right, but to generalize is always dangerous. People seek health care for a vast number of reasons and many have nothing to do with lifestyle at all. Accidents are major contributor. And there are often lifelong problems as a result of the treatment received (or not) after an accidental injury. Birth defects and inherited ailments plague many people. The after-effects of abuse, neglect, or deprivation in childhood can be long-lasting and difficult, if not impossible, to negate.

    I hate people who gloat about their good fortune and peddle the arrogant and contemptuous lie that everything is down to lifestyle choices and people are therefore to blame for their own misfortune. Sure, it's true in many cases. It might even be true in most. But have a little compassion for those who suffer through no fault of their own. Human decency is lacking here Bonny and Ted.
    KSS
    1st Mar 2017
    12:59pm
    There seems to be an intentional confusion of three quite separate issues in this article:
    1. The cost of seeing a GP
    2. The cost of private health cover
    3. The reliance on vitamins and supplements supposedly by those who cannot afford a GP or the medications prescribed.
    with the opinion piece simply focusing on private health cover.

    The cost of health care to the Government generally increases mainly because everyone wants and expects the latest and greatest medical advances to be available to them at any time for any reason and not simply because of the increase in population. We now keep people alive for longer and start earlier than ever before through medical interventions that didn't exist even 5 years ago (think about the very premmie babies with a host of medical complications, or a terminally ill person kept alive for an extra week or two even when they have no quality of life. This costs an extraordinary amount of money yet we somehow expect it all to be paid for with no extra cost to the individual. An example of this is the extraordinary cost of the new hepatitis C drugs that became available at the end of last year. To the individual, before they were placed on the PBS the cost was in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Now they cost the regular prescription charge. The same has happened with cancer drugs and the list goes on. Of course we want everyone to have access to the drugs they need but it costs millions to the Government each time a new drug is listed.

    I strongly suspect that it is not those who say they cannot afford to see a GP or pay for prescriptions that are the buyers of the vitamins and supplements. I suspect that this is being driven by the 'worried well' who do not need them in the first place. Given they cost far more than the basic prescription charge I hardly think that the 'poor' are the ones driving that industry.

    It is a basic 'truth' that whilst there are many very healthy older Australians, there are many more with a range of chronic conditions that result in high medical costs including surgeries. Private health cover by law cannot cover GP visits so no use blaming them for that. Yes private health insurance companies are accountable to their shareholders but remember that some of those shareholders are superannuation funds and everyone with a super account expects a return on their money!

    Health care costs are far more complex than this opinion piece and the original article would have us believe. But confusing separate issues as one muddy pool is unhelpful and creates needless anxiety.
    Thinker
    1st Mar 2017
    1:24pm
    We expect first rate medical care and expect somebody else to pay for it
    TREBOR
    2nd Mar 2017
    5:28pm
    You're darned right I do!
    Thinker
    1st Mar 2017
    1:24pm
    We expect first rate medical care and expect somebody else to pay for it
    TREBOR
    2nd Mar 2017
    5:28pm
    You're darned right I do!

    (my hearing is playing up - I could have sworn I saw this a moment ago.... internet dropouts cause that)
    Tarzan
    1st Mar 2017
    1:39pm
    My private health fund has gone up $447 p.a. and I will pay it as they are a not for profit organisation and I know they do their best and they certainly don't sponsor a sporting team . My only bitch is that if I need surgery the surgeon and the anathetist are looking for $1000's more than the health fund pays and for some obscure reason so are their assistants
    Nan Norma
    1st Mar 2017
    7:19pm
    Yes, I know of one antitheist who is paid $800 an hour.
    OlderandWiser
    2nd Mar 2017
    7:32am
    Years ago, one of my kids had surgery and I got a big bill from the assistant. Fortunately I was friends with a nurse in the public hospital where the operation was performed and she advised me to write back and refuse payment on the grounds that she was on salary from the hospital. The surgeon was private and I agreed to pay his fee from the outset, but his assistant was a salaried employee. He had advised me she was entitled to bill me, but when I threatened to expose the rort, the bill was cancelled.
    Supernan
    1st Mar 2017
    2:57pm
    Like a lot of people we always had health ins. but as the Gov keeps eating away at our part pension, we soon need to reconsider. Especially when hubby - 75 in May - gives up the small amount he earns. Its already very stressful because he is my carer a lot of the time. I too wonder if thats what they are trying to do - cut short the lives of the elderly & sick.
    floss
    1st Mar 2017
    2:58pm
    Yes I hope your Health Insurance is paid up O.G. as you need all the help you can get.
    Bonny
    2nd Mar 2017
    7:08am
    Sounds to me like you might be a little envious of OG looney. He sounds quite a character to me and certainly knows his stuff. I just love the way he helps people out both financially and with his time. Very few do that these days.
    OlderandWiser
    2nd Mar 2017
    7:34am
    You know him do you Bonny? Or do you just believe the crap he peddles here? Nobody as arrogant and lacking in empathy as OG proves he is with his nasty remarks here would genuinely help anyone financially or otherwise!
    TREBOR
    2nd Mar 2017
    5:31pm
    Bonny and OG are like peas in a pod... and so close it's hard to tell them apart... that's a kind of consensus around these parts, and their stories sometimes cross or overlap.

    Bonny lives on an estate, don't you know, and has NBN while the peasants in the village are on the old system...

    Argh, aye, m'lod/m'lady - 'ere be annual fee fer permittin' us'n to live in village....
    Not a Bludger
    1st Mar 2017
    3:15pm
    Again a simple case of the permanently outraged recently climbing on their "collective" high horse over The Abbot government's s proposed $5.00 co-payment for a medical future fund whilst they again, "collectively" shovel massive dollars worth of worthless and entirely unproven so- called complementary "medicines" down their " collective" throats.
    OlderandWiser
    2nd Mar 2017
    8:15am
    Except the complementary medicines are very often far more effective and beneficial than the poisons doctors prescribe, Not a Bludger. It really angers me the way quality natural health care is dismissed as ''irresponsible'' and people who could benefit from it are urged to, instead, rely on prescribed poisons from doctors who are still ''practising'', for astonishing profit.

    I strive for a sensible combination of healthy lifestyle, carefully chosen natural treatments, and traditional medical care when genuinely needed. But bicarb soda recently healed a skin cancer that doctors wanted to remove surgically and then apply $80 an application cream to. Apple cider vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, and prunes fixed digestive problems resulting from past surgery that doctors said was ''too complex to treat effectively and unfortunately something that just had to be suffered.'' Cannabis has a friend alive and well 10 years after being diagnosed with luekemia and given less than a year to live. Dietary treatment and natural supplements raising ph levels to 10 for a few days every six weeks cured another friend of terminal cancer. And fish oil tablets fixed a friend's chronic bad back that doctors wanted to perform a very risky operation on. Surgery could have crippled him for life. Ignatia fixed anxiety and sleeping problems for another friend.

    Our hideous health care costs are a result of governments endorsing traditional medicine exclusively, in order to allow surgeons and big pharma to line pockets without adequate accountability, when other approaches would often yield far better results at much lower cost.
    shirboy
    1st Mar 2017
    3:20pm
    I am currently paying $2040 per year health insurance to Teachers health.
    Joy Anne
    1st Mar 2017
    3:59pm
    I AGREE HEALTH FUNDS ARE GREEDY. I CANNOT AFFORD IT AS I AM A PENSIONER ALSO. I DO HAVE EXTRAS AS I HAVE GLASSES AND NEED THE OTHER OPTIONS I HAVE. I GET 80% BACK ON ALL OR ANY CONDITION. I AM WITH POLICE HEALTH AS I WORKED FOR 10 YEARS. I DID HAVE HOSPITAL BUT CANNOT AFFORD THAT.
    I REMEMBER WHEN YOU GOT PRIVATE HEALTH YEARS AGO THEY PAID ALL YOUR HOSPITAL AND SPECIALISTS ETC ACCOUNTS AND THAT IS WHAT IT SHOULD BE NOW AS WE ARE PAYING 10 TIMES THE AMOUNT WE USE TO. I STRUGGLE WITH SCRIPTS AS BECAUSE I DON'T OR CAN'T TAKE GENERIC DUE TO THE COMPOUND MAKE UP I AM PAYING A LOT MORE FOR MY SCRIPTS WHICH ADDS BETWEEN $4-10 FOR EACH ONE. DIFFERENT EACH FORTNIGHT. TURNBULL IS A PARASITE, HE KEEPS TAKING FROM THE PEOPLE THAT NEED THE MOST. HE WOULD LOVE TO END MEDICARE.
    Justsane
    1st Mar 2017
    4:07pm
    Late in December, our electricity payment and our Medibank Private (ancilliaries only) payment were almost exactly the same. But the electricity bill covered two months, Medibank Private, one month. What did we get from this? Well, on one hand, the energy to power our lights, TV, computers, etc for two months. On the other hand, well, nothing at all.
    nena
    1st Mar 2017
    4:09pm
    I have found a solution, I´m applying for a permanent residence visa to a Romantic Cuba, Yes...Cuba.
    Viva Cuba!!!
    KSS
    1st Mar 2017
    5:59pm
    Good luck with that one. I assume you are doing it because of the free health care? Well, according to people in Cuba you rarely get to see a GO because there are very few. Most of them go to Venezuela in Trade Deals. The person you see in Cuba is more than likely a student and you strike it lucky if they have studied what you have got! Then if they give you script off you go to the chemist. Good luck with that too. More than likely they won't have the medicine, but if they did, you could have it of course. And as for specialists, there are even fewer of those than GPs.

    BUT Cuba is an amazing place and I am sure you will have a good time. As for residency - unless you have a Cuban partner - again that is unlikely but good on you for trying.
    Old Geezer
    1st Mar 2017
    6:38pm
    Yes Cuba is a cheap place to live but it is nothing like you would be used to here in Aussieland. A trip to a dentist is like having a haircut. Yes you sit in a chair and all the world watches from the street. If you have a toothache you get free treatment but you have to wait over a month and have your tooth pulled without it being numbed. If you want treatment straight away you pay and if you want antibiotics and your month numbered you have to get the drugs from elsewhere before they start the treatment.

    Things like toothpaste are not readily available plus many other things. I have a friend who lives there and has to regularly fly out and bring back supplies of the things she needs.

    $2US a month for electricity is certainly cheap though.

    1st Mar 2017
    5:56pm
    what a thoroughly confusing article - all over the shop

    Is our healthcare system costing the taxpayer too much - YES
    but whats the solution? more doctors, less government subsidies ? user pays ?

    is medical insurance in Oz expensive ? yes but its optional
    TREBOR
    2nd Mar 2017
    2:59am
    You need to look at the components of the healthcare system to see what is costing took much.

    Subsidies to private hospitals and healthcare providers are part of the mix, and paying for their shareholders and board members and such adds to the cost.

    Oddly enough - the 'right wing' LNP, who are claimed to support 'private industry', have decided they need to impose the Medicare levy on a lower income bracket... bloody socialists....

    Truth sucks, neh?

    And the truth is that no government can rely on the 100% capitalist mode to service and to provide any service to its people, as it is required to do. If those in our government who have benefited from out of control capitalism as their mantra for our society and nation, now find themselves trapped in the reality that you simply can't take forever from the ordinary person and expect to survive - they are already dead.
    Bonny
    2nd Mar 2017
    7:18am
    Health insurance is just one way of getting medical care. You can not pay it and rely on tbe free system but it comes at a cost too. TIME. Don't know about you but my time is too valuable to waste waiting. You can also use the third tier of medical services available in Australia simply pay for them. It is truely anazing what is available out side the medicare system. I certainly just hate having medicare dictate to me what I can and cannot access. Next time you see a specialist just ask what is available that medicare does not pay for.

    Remember all this medical stuff has vested interests and they are not yours.
    Jim
    1st Mar 2017
    5:58pm
    I think it's about time we had a royal commission into the charges that we pay for insurance and another one into the charges we pay to medical specialists, recently I suffered a heart attack the treatment I received was absolutely fantastic, first class in every way. What I couldn't get over was the ammount of different specialist that were involved in my care while I was in hospital, the average cost $300 per visit some I don't recall seeing other visits were usually less than 5 minutes I had excellent care from the nurses who I am quite sure are not on anything like $300 a day let alone $300 a visit. I am extremely grateful to all of the people involved in my care but I do question the fees that are charged by some of the professionals. It's not surprising that most of the private hospitals are owned by the medical profession.
    Bellbird
    1st Mar 2017
    10:22pm
    Dim, I am a retired medical specialist and agree with your feelings about the specialist charges in the private system. The un-covered gaps can be astounding and are a positive disincentive for people trying to stay in private cover. Yes there has been a freeze on MBS rebates but this has affected mostly the GPs. The procedural specialists in particular can charge fees that are utterly indefensible: like hundreds of dollars gap for giving the simplest of anaesthetics for a 15 minute gastroscopy. Market forces can't operate to reduce prices because surgeons and anaesthetists are in cahoots, and the original referring doctor is uninformed about the specialists' huge gaps. I had a comfortable income over decades without charging more than fund rebates, and ploughed plenty of time into each hospital visit. Gap fees should be capped. I challenge any specialist to justify gaps of thousands of dollars to fully insured patients.
    Bonny
    2nd Mar 2017
    7:24am
    Always ask what it is going to cost and if too much seek a second or third opinion. Medicare doesn't like doctor shopping and cuts rebates on second opinions but if you are not happy a few dollars paid at the stage will pay off in the long run.

    I am rarely charged any extra for doctors or specialists.
    MICK
    1st Mar 2017
    6:58pm
    The sheer size of healthcare in this country reeks of over servicing and the abuse of the system.
    Whilst my wife and I appear to be quite healthy we do not run to the doctor unless there appears to be a very good reason. Our fellow Australians generally do run to the doctor for zip. It costs us all and this is the problem.
    My suggestions are to live a healthier lifestyle, do not smoke, take drugs and knock yourself around with alcohol abuse, eat a healthy diet and do regular exercise. Of course many of us CHOOSE to not follow the above basic rules and then throw themselves on our health system to fix them up.
    I have maintained for a long time that folk who cause their own problems through long term abuse of their bodies should pay for their own treatments but I know this is an unpopular view so we'll just have to stump and more and more money for those amongst us who are responsible for their (expensive to treat) aliments and their hypochondria.
    The human race never much changes.
    Nan Norma
    1st Mar 2017
    7:04pm
    Mick. You are so right.
    Old Man
    1st Mar 2017
    7:49pm
    I love your photo MICK, I clicked on it and got it full screen. I thought how appropriate it is, the only feature recognisable is one eye. Hope you are having a ball wherever you are.
    TREBOR
    2nd Mar 2017
    3:04am
    I get it all for free - and in a timely fashion... and I'm nobody special.
    How does one determine, Mick, who has caused their own problems and such? What are we talking about here?

    Some people have abused their bodies because their society told them that was the way to go and they had no idea it was any different.

    When I was growing up, almost everyone smoked - now it is an offence against the health system.

    Where do we draw the line? I spent many years not smoking or drinking, and very.. very fit .. and still had heart troubles at 51.

    What line would you like to draw?
    OlderandWiser
    2nd Mar 2017
    8:24am
    I agree, Trebor. It's a tough question. I objected to someone eating herself to death with a sugar addiction, but the root cause was depression because an accident in childhood had caused ongoing problems that restricted her ability to achieve her ambitions. Do we blame and punish in those circumstances? I know alcoholics whose doctors endorse their drinking as less harmful than the drugs they would otherwise need to deal with PTSD, anxiety and depression resulting from abuse and deprivation in childhood, etc. Do we punish the drinker and reward the taker of expensive prescribed drugs that are possibly more harmful?

    Someone is technically at fault in a car accident because they run up the back of someone who cuts in to traffic carelessly, or they go through a give-way sign and hit a speeding maniac who appears out of nowhere. Do we refuse the ''at fault'' driver treatment for injury if they can't afford to pay?

    What about IVF babies born with birth defects. Should they be denied publicly-funded health care because Mum wanted bub so badly she believed the doctor's spin and used artificial methods to reproduce - bearing in mind that the birth defect may have happened anyway, possibly due to a genetic deficiency in one or other parent, or just a freak of nature.
    TREBOR
    2nd Mar 2017
    5:41pm
    I'm one of those self-treaters with beer....PTSD and childhood abuse/neglect. Never considered drugs, though. Know a few blokes like that, too. I'll be off for a supply soon.... it's nearly beer o'clock...
    ozimarco
    1st Mar 2017
    9:42pm
    We pulled out of private health insurance as soon as I stopped working at the age of 62. That was seven years ago. Since then, my wife and I have used the public system and have been very happy with it. The care I received after my heart attack was excellent, including the rehabilitation service and ongoing care by my GP and cardiologist. Until last year, we never paid a cent towards our health care apart from the subsidised medication we take. Due to the LNP government changing the rules, the last time I saw the cardiologist, I had to make a co-payment. I didn't really mind that much after having received so much care for free over the years.
    I believe in a universal health care system, which will never see the light of day in Australia as long as people keep voting in conservative governments.
    Instead of paying the health insurance companies, we invest the money. This ensures that, should we ever need an urgent procedure that is not life-threatening, we have the money to pay for it. I think this makes more sense than giving money to shareholders of insurance companies.
    OlderandWiser
    2nd Mar 2017
    8:03am
    Me too, ozimarco, on all points. We dropped out about ten years ago after I had very expensive surgery in a private hospital and the gap was many thousands, but I had to have it redone as it was botched. The repair was done in a public hospital with no insurance claim or out of pocket cost and the quality of care was 1000 times better than the expensive private hospital. So I cancelled the fake insurance (that certainly wasn't!) and since then I've enjoyed first class care whenever necessary, at taxpayer cost. And I don't like that the taxpayer has to pay, but the government made it this way! And if I wanted to restore my private cover now, I couldn't, which seems utterly ludicrous if you want more people to privately insure.

    We are now facing a $10,000 cost for eye surgery, but I'm not too upset because I figure I've saved close to that much by not paying for private health and private health probably wouldn't cover much of it anyway. There would doubtless be huge '''gaps''. The government would cover it if we waited 5 years until cataracts are large enough to result in near blindness (it's not for cataracts, but they would do both together under Medicare if cataract removal was urgently needed). It's our choice not to wait. I'm glad I saved on health insurance, and invested the savings.

    We have very high needs due to after-effects of multiple workplace injuries and after-effects of child abuse and deprivation. We eat very healthy and exercise daily. We limit supplements to those few that we've proved are genuinely helpful (and they are, coincidentally, the very inexpensive ones) and we rely heavily on apple cider vinegar and bicarb soda, which do wonderful things if used sensibly.

    I believe in a universal health care system because I believe health care should not be regarded as a luxury only available to the well-off, but ozimarco is right. It will never happen under a conservative government. Nor will health care ever be really affordable while greed and selfishness is permitted to run rampant and doctors and big pharma (and senior execs and directors of health insurance businesses) are allowed to exploit the sick to hoard obscene profits.
    Old Geezer
    7th Mar 2017
    12:25pm
    Rainey why can't those that can afford it get better health care in this country? If they don't then they will go where they can and many do already. You can stay in the public system but it's not for me after all the drams I've had with it. My life is too important to have doctor's practice on me which is what happens in the public system. I can afford the best so why can't I have it?
    GeorgeM
    1st Mar 2017
    11:11pm
    Thanks, Dim and Bellbird, for useful comments.

    The Private Health Insurance system in Australia is a fraud on the people, as the Govt forces it on people (with penalties), approves large increases in premiums every year, and yet forces Patients to bear the Risk of Gaps and high Doctors fees. Insurance companies need to bear these Risks of Gaps (all except 15% of Medicare Scheduled Fees) and high Doctors Fees, including for costs of Diagnostic Tests and Pharmaceuticals. Otherwise it is not Insurance, simply a scheme to refund part of costs. Insurance companies are getting away with a complete con on people without taking on these Risks, and making great profits.

    The Govt needs to change Laws as needed, and allow / persuade / force Insurance companies to cover all Risks for Gap Fees and all Medical Costs (all except 15% of Medicare Scheduled Fees), and then create a competitive market by ensuring Standard Products with full coverage are offered.

    Maybe, such articles should also be followed up by Petitions from YLC taking into account the strong feelings of readers - otherwise why stir up everyone?
    OlderandWiser
    2nd Mar 2017
    7:46am
    Absolutely agree, George. Everyone I know - including myself - who dropped private cover did so because of gaps, not premiums. It just isn't insurance!
    In Outer Orbit
    2nd Mar 2017
    12:11am
    Life's only certainties supposedly; Death. Preceded by taxes.

    Death deferred allows more tax on disease. Anyone spot potential here?

    Old age at least brings the benefits of hindsight, and insight that most of us live our lives as gullible cannon fodder for capitalism, from cradle to grave; first we are marketed into buying our way into disease (cigs, grog, coke, pizza and fries, sofas and pool loungers, 'good times' rolling), THEN we are taxed on our disease via the misnomer of health services, which really only parasitise disease. (Or some might say heal. Discuss). If you keep fit, don't worry, you'll be paying tax for all the rest anyway. None are spared.

    Governments could put the disease cost where most of it really belongs, with the vendors of junk. Big Tobacco. Big Grog. Etc. But voters want their junk cheap. Or Gov could legislate it out of existence, or meaningfully oppose the negative influences on us all, but voters supposedly demand 'choice' and 'freedom from the nanny state'. Familiar cliches? All that seems left to Gov therefore is to go with the current flow, get in on the act and take a cut (just tax everything). It's no mystery what every political party has chosen to do in the end and so we know why Australia has evolved into another land of the obese, like all other members of the OECD chasing the American dream (think Elvis, and look how he ended up). For the same basic influences, it is only going to get worse.

    The 'tax-on-disease' hole we are now in has no bottom to it, we can all fall for ever, and technological advances will ensure it; bear in mind that immortality is no longer fantasy to medical science - think however what it will cost the proletariat to immortalise a 'lucky' minority of cyborg scraps, wires and pickled viscera, perhaps drifting in space...Most of us will see no benefit, just the bill.

    Our appalling disease burden and it's cost appear a direct result of the reality that our planet was not made perfect for the human species, so we are all vulnerable to its many hazards, and this inescapable threat is compounded by our own collective stupidity, greed and gullibility, not least our collective failure to recognise the destructive consequences of democracy and policy in the hands of an ignorant demos.

    There are much bigger forces at work here folks than the parochial nitpicking of the day. The human race is ultimately a victim only of itself. We're genetically programmed essentially to eat fat and reproduce, both insatiably. Most of the worlds problems start and end there.

    Anyway, having got that off my chest, it's time to wobble to Weight Watchers, while I can still afford it. It's so wonderful these days - so much weight on offer to watch!

    Factoid; Of the global population, 2 billion human beings are currently obese. Meanwhile less than 1 billion human beings remain malnourished by deficit. Redressing the imbalance would be the ultimate 'win:win'. But we don't, and instead Australia fears immigrants arriving with 'nothing'. Perhaps we might instead welcome any arrival with a genuine hunger able to take some of our surplus food out of our chubby little hands.
    floss
    2nd Mar 2017
    1:07pm
    Good post Rainey you summed up the health insurance fraud well with out blowing your own trumpet.
    PIXAPD
    3rd Mar 2017
    6:00am
    Medicare... surgery for ulcers when younger, later years heart attack and stents, total hip replacement, cancer treatment, good Drs, Public hospitals all on Medicare, no problem. Also dental work and new dentures, no cost.

    Though I must say that after nearly 6 years at Cancer Clinic and numerous times at hospital with NO result, I started treating myself by chewing on Apricot kernals, thanks to the Lord the outcome has been good to say the least.

    MY Cancer talk https://youtu.be/48_Cito_jVI be encouraged
    PIXAPD
    5th Mar 2017
    4:01am
    'Women are Bad, Sinners' a poem for husbands and for the encouragement of women, www.richard-2782.net/poem212.htm


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