Aussies foot tourists’ medical bills

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?

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Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca has worked in publishing and media in one form or another for around 25 years. He's a voracious reader, word spinner and art, writing, design, painting, drawing, travel and photography enthusiast. You'll often find him roaming through galleries or exploring the streets of his beloved Melbourne and surrounding suburbs, sketchpad or notebook in hand, smiling.
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