Public and private patients suffer if health insurance rebate cut

The nation's largest grouping of both public and private hospitals says Government plans to increase the cost of private health insurance has created uncertainty that will impact both public and private patients alike.

Catholic Health Australia (CHA) represent not-for-profit Catholic public and private hospitals spread around the Nation, who on any given day care for one in ten of all Australians in a hospital bed.
CHA CEO Martin Laverty said "The Government has again flagged a plan to make private health insurance more expensive for some. We've argued previously this plan will likely result in more people queuing at public hospitals.

"The Government argues high income earners should pay their own way. Of course they should. That is what the rebate does -- it provides an incentive to encourage take up of insurance.

"We speak for both public and private hospitals. The more people with insurance, the less people queuing for public hospitals. Sustaining the balance of having nearly half the population insured is important for public hospital patients and private hospital patients alike."

CHA last June commissioned Access Economics to assess the impacts of the Government's proposed health insurance cost increases. Access Economics found the Government plan could:

  • force up the cost of private health insurance for 2 million people, and
  • lead to 100,000 fewer people with private health insurance.

"The probable impact of the plan, which was defeated twice in the last Parliament, would be an extra 36,000 patients seeking treatment in public hospitals around Australia," Mr Laverty said.

"The national average waiting time for public elective surgery remained stubbornly static over the term of the Rudd Government, with the average wait being about 35 days. Health insurance changes will push up public hospital waiting times."

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