Savings from private health means test changes must go to health

13 Feb 2012

AMA President, Dr Steve Hambleton, said today that, should the Government succeed in getting its private health insurance means test changes through the Parliament, all savings should be ploughed back into the health system.

Dr Hambleton said that the extra funding would assist cover existing need in the system and help compensate the public hospital system for any extra demand that may occur as a result of the changes.

“Australia needs both a strong private sector and a well-funded public sector to deliver effective health care,” Dr Hambleton said.

“Private health insurance participation rates must be maintained at current levels to maintain the viability of the private sector.

“There are many disparate views of the possible impact of the means test changes.

“The Government says its modelling indicates that the changes would have a modest impact on private health membership.  Federal AMA analysis of that modelling draws a similar conclusion.

“So we will have to look for hard evidence of the impact, not speculation.

“The AMA would be concerned if more people than estimated gave up their cover or if the measure causes people to downgrade their cover to reduce the cost of their premiums.

“It is therefore vital that any savings from the measure stay in the health system.

“If the changes make it through the Parliament, the Government must monitor the impact of this policy and be prepared to make adjustments if there is any significant reduction in private health insurance membership.

“Our public hospitals must be properly resourced and the balance between the public and private sector must be protected,” Dr Hambleton said.

13 February 2012

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