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Shadow Minister for Health no: ®

HOWE ADVOCATES COMPONENTS OF U.S HEALTH SYSTEM

It appears that the Government intends to do away with the principle of community rating which protects the aged and the sick from higher health coats, Federal Shadow Minister for Health Dr Bob Woods said today.

" Reported comments by Minister Brian Howe calling on health funds to offer insurance packages which exclude coverage for certain conditions like hip replacements are a sign that the Government intends to remove community rating " said Dr Woods.

" Community rating ensures that regardless of ago or illness everybody is charged the same for private health insurance and that the elderly do not pay higher premiums than younger fund members, It is ironic that Brian Howe has continually attempted to smear the Coalition Health Policy by intimating it would lead to an American style health

system yet today he has indicated that he advocates abolishing one of the major structural differences between the Australian and the American systems.

The absence of community rating in the US is responsible for the increasingly common social phenomenon of "granny dumping " - when many aged and ill parents and relatives have been callously abandoned by family and friends because of their lack of private health insurance and their inability to pay high health bills.

The Coalition Health Policy is adamant that the principle of community rating is sacrosanct and must be the basis of Australia's health care system if good quality health care if to be delivered to all Australians. Risk rating, on which the US system is based allows discrimination.

If the Minister is sincere about wanting to do something about the cost of private health insurance premiums he should adopt the Coalition Health Policy of offering tax credits for people who take out private health insurance. This will, even on conservative estimates, attract a million people into private health funds.

As these younger fitter members move into the funds which are currently dominated by older sicker members, premiums will fall. This is endorsed by the Government's own Treasury analysis of Coalition Health Policy.

It was Prime Minister Paul Keating who actually said people did not need private health insurance and it is his Government's policies over the past ten years which have caused the drop in the levels of the privately insured from close to 70% prior to the introduction of Medicare to only just over 40% of the population now.

It is ironic that Brian Howe is now bemoaning the cost of premiums and trying to

PAr^^.INAEN I TAR ^ L1B M1CAH i1i r nation contact Dr Woods or Loi. a O 'Connor on 02 745 3200, a comsat Dr Wood. 02 744 1872 or L i.a O'Connor 02 797 4233. 0 F' 3

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ntimictate heaitn tunas with the throat of an inquiry into the private health insurance Industry. The sick and the aged have already suffered enough under this Government. It is the sick and the elderly who are forced to wait on public hospital waiting lists in pain and suffering when they need to have hip replacement operations and cataracts removed, It is the sick and the elderly who are forced to scrape together the money for private health insurance because they have no faith in the public system. To remove community rating would be the final nail in the coffin for our crippled health system."

3rd February 1992

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For further iaornwtion oontoct Dr WoodM or Leila O'Connor on 02 746 5200, After hours contact Dr Wood. 02 744 1872 or Lal,a O'Cuimor 02 797 9233.