Is private health cover becoming a political football?

Government raises concerns around Labor’s plans for rebate.

Debate ramps up on health cover

Hard on the heels of its franking credits policy announcement, Labor’s plans for private health insurance have been thrust into the spotlight.

Government sources say Labor Leader Bill Shorten is eyeing the current 30 per cent rebate claimed by millions of Australians if it were to win power in the 2019 election. Labor denies the rebate is on the agenda.

Even so, Private Healthcare Australia chief Rachel David has already weighed into the debate, according to Fairfax Media. Ms David says Labor’s ‘failure’ to guarantee the future of the rebate would cause ‘great concern’ among older Australians and those on lower incomes.

“About 50 per cent of people with private health insurance have an annual income of under $50,000 a year,” she said. “The majority of those are full pensioners, part pensioners or superannuants on low incomes and these people will be hardest hit by further change.”

It would appear the ‘fun and games’ have begun even though the federal election is more than 12 months away.

Just days after premiums rose by an average 3.95 per cent, Mr Shorten said private health insurers were ‘running amok’ with their price increases.

“That’s why Labor has a policy that we will cap the increases at no greater than two per cent for the first two years if we get elected,” he said.

“But beyond that, we want to reform private health insurance – we don’t want to get rid of it.”

However, Health Minister Greg Hunt has warned that voters need to closely monitor the impact on household budgets in any changes to private health cover.

With the cost of private cover one of the key issues concerning older Australians, as revealed by YourLifeChoices’ Financial Literacy survey, Government and Opposition policies on the health front are sure to be closely followed.

Labor announced in February that it would launch a Productivity Commission review into private health insurance if it won government.

Mr Shorten has previously said he would not abolish the 30 per cent rebate, but political analysts are speculating that amendments may be on the table.

A spokesperson for Mr Shorten told Fairfax Media that Labor was not considering any changes to the rebate beyond what it had already announced, such as removing rebates on ‘junk’ policies and natural therapies.

Would changes to private health insurance rebates influence how you would vote?

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    COMMENTS

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    3rd Apr 2018
    10:38am
    Private health insurance is a scam and a rip-off anyway. Never, ever trust the Lieberals. Your safer with Labor.
    ray from Bondi
    3rd Apr 2018
    11:42am
    IT is not INSURANCE, I have said time and time again and do not tire of saying it, do you have car insurgence have you had an accident, if so everything that happens is transparent, just pay the excess whatever that is and then pick up your car, become very sick and make a claim YOU have to sort out the payments to everybody, keep track of what you have sent to medicare and the private health COVER, I can tell you that is a nightmare, and after paying the excess there are still payments to make, I have found that on two occasions and I was lucky to receive back 50% of what was charged with both the private and medicare counted. My wife wants it as she has a very serious illness and with what all governments should be hanging their heads in shame with what has been done to the public system to support that protected species private health. NO other industry is supported like you name it and it is now produced overseas.
    Old Geezer
    3rd Apr 2018
    10:37pm
    If I get sick my health insurance takes care of everything for me including paying for TV while in hospital and even send me home with free medication. I don't have to sort out anything with any body.

    However if I have a car accident it is not that simple at all.
    patti
    3rd Apr 2018
    12:12pm
    Under $50,000 a year? Try under $25,000 would be more of a reality for anyone relying solely on the Age Pension.
    KSS
    3rd Apr 2018
    12:21pm
    Having successfully used the Mediscare tactic at the last election, seems Mr Shorten is gearing up to go round two but with the insurance rebate. His envy politics is quite sickening.
    Cowboy Jim
    3rd Apr 2018
    12:22pm
    @patti - the figure of $50'000 is right as it does not mention single pensioners with private health insurance. We just paid our yearly bill to avoid the 4% increase and that came to $4500.
    Not a Bludger
    3rd Apr 2018
    12:34pm
    Of course Shorten and his leftie mates would change/cancel the rebate - as a Trotskyite he hates anything in private hands, including health insurance.

    Retirees and soon to be retirees should be very, very careful.
    Rae
    3rd Apr 2018
    3:54pm
    Pity the private system can't organise and run themselves efficiently isn't it?

    Too many fancy desks, CEOs and paper shufflers I expect.

    The costs go up every year and so do the gap charges.

    If they keep it up there won't be a private health system because nobody will be able to afford it.
    Not a Bludger
    3rd Apr 2018
    5:43pm
    No Rae - as the population ages more people need treatment + medical technology advances by the day - and people demand to be kept alive with ever more complex and costly treatments and pharmaceuticals.

    Absolutely nothing to do with desks and in the age of computer technology, less paper too.
    ray from Bondi
    3rd Apr 2018
    7:14pm
    well it is easy to see where your affiliation lies, the next thing you will say it is it the fault of the poor because they are poor and do not deserve any help or assistance as they should be rich, and from what I have seen in the media they are not rich because they are nice and caring people. One time long ago a young school kid was told that governments are to govern the people to ensure their health and well being where nothing can be done by an individual as a group wonders can be done, now all that seems to matter is how rich the rich are becoming, hmm is this off subject.
    Rae
    4th Apr 2018
    2:39pm
    Go take a good look at the Head Office of your Insurer NaB.

    Mine even put out a quarterly magazine until we all protested the waste of money.

    Those Bupa ads on TV must cost a bit too.

    Bet they have their own plane as well.
    Concerned
    3rd Apr 2018
    12:57pm
    3.9% increase, what a joke, more like 7.8% for us, and that includes 7.8% on the 62% loading as well that we pay. What a joke.
    Old Geezer
    3rd Apr 2018
    10:39pm
    I paid mine years in advance a couple of years back so who knows what it will cost me when it runs out in a couple of years time.
    Polly Esther
    3rd Apr 2018
    1:18pm
    A political football? you may very well ask. Well yes that's what they are playing; and no body is bothering to kick any goals, even attempt to, just behinds, each others in fact, and ours as well. Sore bum, go see your quack, mine bulk bills, hope yours does as well. When all else fails - smile :-)))
    Rae
    3rd Apr 2018
    3:56pm
    Yes if people had guts they'd cancel the insurance and all queue up at the bulk biller. That would give the Government something real to worry about.
    ray from Bondi
    3rd Apr 2018
    7:15pm
    yes, that is all it is, health should be run by the feds, this sharing just end up with finger pointing and nothing being done.

    3rd Apr 2018
    4:09pm
    For a start, the rebate is not 30%. Labor started reducing the rebate and although the Coalition strongly objected they have continued the slide. The rebate is a lot different from when Costello brought in the 30% and it is certainly not higher.

    As regards politicians saying one thing before an election and then doing the opposite afterwards, it seems to be par for the course. Add in the "non-core" promises (whatever that means) and we have a group of people running the nation who either lie to us or won't tell us what they really intend to do when they get elected.

    ***Please don't start trying to play one-up-manship by quoting names and dates, all parties are as guilty as each other.***
    ray from Bondi
    3rd Apr 2018
    7:17pm
    here here look up all governments lie on the net :)
    Greg
    4th Apr 2018
    12:09am
    Depending on age the rebate is
    <65 =25.415%
    65 - 69 = 29.651%
    70+ = 33.887%
    Kathleen
    5th Apr 2018
    11:43am
    Choose a not for profit private health fund. Then choose the highest excess. Keep your premiums down. Free day surgery is offered by only one insurer which is great because so much is done in the one day hospital stay. Choose carefully to avoid specialists who do not bulk bill. There are some excellent ones who are not greedy. You can have this cover for $20 or $30 a week per person which gives you choices and control. First priority for us still!
    ray from Bondi
    5th Apr 2018
    6:55pm
    I did a quick search but could not find anything would you be able to offer some clues to your statement
    GeorgeM
    5th Apr 2018
    8:38pm
    A few moronic comments from each of the major no-good parties - no-good because that's what they aim to provide to anyone. Neither can be trusted as neither is seriously tackling the lack of value & rip-off offered by Private Health Insurance and rip-offs by doctors. Best to get rid of both parties.

    Firstly, 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 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.

    Secondly, Doctors / AMA are allowed by the Govt to set Fees and rip off the people with large gaps. Govt, NOT AMA, needs to set realistic Medicare Rebates for Fees, and impose a MAXIMUM for Fees charged by doctors of say 25% in excess of that - if doctors can justify it.

    Finally, 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 (100%) coverage are offered.


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