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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

paying to access to public health care « Previous | |Next »
December 31, 2013

In a submission by the Australian Centre for Health Research to the federal government's Commission of Audit there was a proposal for a $6 co-payment for visits to your GP and a similar fee to stop patients from both clogging up emergency departments and abandoning GP services. Under the proposal, pensioners and concession card holders would be exempt from the fee, while families would be granted up to 12 bulk-billed visits annually.

This would bring money into the health system, which is facing health costs that are likely to grow rapidly in future. The budget in May, for instance, forecast health spending by the federal government to balloon by more than $5 billion by 2016-17, largely due to the ageing of the population and the rapid improvement in health technology and medicines. Both federal and state government health budgets are under growing stress.

PopeDmedicare.jpg David Pope

For an Abbott Government desperate to make budget savings, finding ways to offset the cost of health is a clear and obvious strategy. The main driver for this co-payment proposal is to generate budget savings ($750 million over four years) . The assumption is moral hazard - the idea that if healthcare is free (or too inexpensive) people will use it inappropriately. Without further price signals, the costs of healthcare will continue to grow. The argument is that co-payments reduce inappropriate use of medical services.

The ACHR submission was written by Terry Barnes, a former senior health adviser to Tony Abbott, who argues that co-payments would provide a:

simple yet powerful reminder that we have a responsibility to look after our own health and not simply pass on all the costs of and responsibility for caring for ourselves to fellow taxpayers...I think that when you have what to your wallet is a free good you don’t necessarily appreciate the full value, the full cost of what it takes to get that service. This is sending a price signal to people, there’s no question about that... To keep access fair and equitable, but also to ensure that resources are managed properly, the states could charge a matching co-payment for GP-type services in emergency departments.

It is another step in the universality of the Australian healthcare system being severely eroded by out-of-pocket costs which continue to grow. It would provide disincentives for disadvantaged groups, including Indigenous people, pensioners and people with limited access.

It is a piecemeal change to the Medicare system rather than a proposal for a broader examination of the share of costs borne by patients across the entire health system, including on medications and diagnostic tests, to ensure a balance between sustainability, equity and efficiency.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 12:32 PM | | Comments (12)
Comments

Comments

You should have a New Years resolution to write some positive opinion. You seem to take the negative side of every issue. The cartoon choice always goes the same way too but they do tend to mostly be that way. Negative sarcastic humour. Hmm mildly amusing at best.
Anyway Happy New Year Misery Guts.

"I think that when you have what to your wallet is a free good you don’t necessarily appreciate the full value..."

Hmmm. An interesting point. Everyone in out society should feel some discomfort in their hip pocket.

So... here's a thought...

TAX THE FU@

"Inappropriate" visits?
And who is to say a visit is,"inapropriate" but a doctor, to say whether a person is deeply ill or just off colour.
Long term advice for people with chest/indigestion pains, for example- these situations, we have been told, should not be trifled with for gear of fatal consequences.
Les, what a wonderfully constructive addition to the conversation- so nurse your NY hangover 'til you get a bit "positive" yourself, eh?

If the Abbott Coalition Govt was serious about reducing health costs they could allow many of the tasks performed by doctors to be given to other professionals such as pharmacists, nurse practitioners and physician assistants.

Why is it negative to say that our demand for care is growing in line with our ageing population, that we need to ensure every dollar we spend on healthcare delivers maximum value, and that the government is right to consider all options to reduce inefficiency in the Australian health system.

The government is correct to look for ways in which we can contribute more to our healthcare. It is reasonable to propose that most of us on good incomes should be contributing more to the cost of our healthcare.

The commission of audit represents the first step in the politics of austerity premised on socialising losses, privatising profits … The name for this is corporate welfare which also covers concessions and subsidies for business.Government support for the mining industry alone costs about $4.5 billion a year in subsidies,


The commission of audit also mean cuts in housing, education, culture, health. It's about rolling back the gains working people have made since the second world war with respect to the welfare state.

Positive news?

We have broken Coalition promises on school funding and the roll-out of the National Broadband Network, as well as hints at changes to paid parental leave, the National Disability Insurance Scheme and Medicare.

deep cuts in the in the Abbott's coming May budget would worsen the problem of unemployment. There goes the Abbott Govt's promise to create 1 million jobs over five years.

"Why is it negative to say that our demand for care is growing in line with our ageing population, that we need to ensure every dollar we spend on healthcare delivers maximum value, and that the government is right to consider all options to reduce inefficiency in the Australian health system."

Why?
Because it's meaningless twaddle, that's why.

I can write the same twaddle about a variety of issues and say nothing significant, just a pile of lovely words.

Try this for example:
"In our mission to maximise the benefits of education for the next generation it is imperative that we critically examine the wants and needs of that generation and the system that aims to best provide them with the means of successfully engaging with the future in the most efficient and beneficial manner possible".

I just made that up - it makes as much sense as the quote at the top and with minor variations [insert things like 'public transport', 'medical system' where convenient] - sounds as nice but is just as meaningless.

Until ... we consider the history and context and motivation of whoever uttered these lovely public relation phrases. The detail with its devils.
And their ideology.

In the case of the quote at the top it reflects the values [also known as ideology] of the COALition - a free market, anti-government, pro vested interest, capitalist political party who have consistently for decades been opponents of public health [and public transport and public education and so on].

The quote is twaddle because it disguises their real motivation - the desire, for ideological reasons, to eviscerate public health in favour of private health.
Its an assault on public health.
That's what the history of the COALition tells us and the context, increasing health costs for the lower classes, denies their crocodile tears.


Incidentally Gary, thanks for providing your informative forum, a quality effort. Have a good year - you other folk as well.

"...we have a responsibility to look after our own health and not simply pass on all the costs of and responsibility for caring for ourselves to fellow taxpayers..."

"This is sending a price signal to people, there’s no question about that..."

Do we assume that this "price signal" will be loud enough for the rich to hear???

My guess is that they may be tempted to ignore their "responsibility" to look after their own health. A measly $6 tax won't make them think twice.

haha...paul, alcohol is a drug mate. I don't do drugs.