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Private health insurance numbers - Qld public hospital funding safe for now

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ic Hospitals, Health & edicare Alliance „,α„β β „$ ,3„ < , PRESS RELEASE


20 May 1999


The negligible increase in the number of Queenslanders covered by private health insurance is good news for Queensland’s health system and means our public hospitals are safe from federal funding cuts for now, the Public Hospitals, Health and Medicare Alliance of Queensland said today.

The Alliance was responding to this afternoon’s release of the latest private health insurance coverage figures, which showed the Howard Government’s multi-billion dollar scheme to entice people into private health insurance has failed. Queensland’s coverage rose by only 0.1% from 28.3% to 28.4%. The first three months of the incentive scheme, supported by millions of dollars in

advertising, were expected to produce u much larger tum-around.

Alliance spokesperson, Dr Theo Van Leishout, said Queensland’s result indicated people had faith in their public hospitals and that private health insurance is not a popular alternative to Medicare.

“It also means we can breathe a little easier in terms of Commonwealth funding for Queensland public hospitals. If Queensland private health insurance coverage exceeds 30.4% then the Commonwealth Government starts withdrawing funding from our public hospitals. However, the

battle to save our public hospitals is not over and every Queenslander thinking of taking out private health insurance should understand it will not, under present funding arrangements, take pressure off our public hospitals.

“If coverage climbs above that figure of 30.4% then Queensland starts losing about $450.00 per extra person covered. Queensland will lose about $15 million per year for every one per cent its coverage exceeds 30.4%. If coverage jumps by 8% then Queensland will lose nearly $100 million per year in public hospital funding. That would be devastating.

“So increasing private health insurance coverage, under these arrangements, does not take the pressure off public hospitals and it is wrong for the Federal Government to'suggest it does. It simply transfers money from the public sector to the private sector and will substantially decrease Queensland’s capacity to provide public hospital services," Dr Van Leishout said.

The Alliance is a formal coalition consisting of the Australian Pensioners and Superannuants League (Qld inc), ACTU(Q), Queensland Nurses Union, Doctors Reform Society. State Public Services Federation, Queensland and the Queensland Council of Social Service.

In conjunction with the Health Issues Centre Inc and the Queensland Council of Social Service, the Alliance is sponsoring a major seminar — Sustaining a Healthy Future - In Brisbane on Friday (May 21) to discuss this and other health funding issues. See page 2.

Media inquiries: Dr Theo Van Leishout 07-3844 4912 (h); 07-3812 3843 (w) John Moran 07-3355 0803; 0411-603 279 More

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The approximate cuts to federal public hospital funding In the following States & Territories, as private health insurance coverage increases, are as follows. The Federal Government must clarify the situation.

S t a t e N S W V i c Q l d S A A C T N T

PHI cover September 1998

30.4% 29.5% 28.4% 31.0% In NSW



Funding loss Threshold

34.3% 32.2% 30.4% 33.1% 36.6% 25.9%

Loss per 1 % rise



$20.5 m i l l i o n



$7.5 million

$2.5 m i l l i o n

$0.8 m i l l i o n

31% cover Nil Nil $9m Nil Nil $4.1m

32% cover Nil Nil $24m Nil Nil $4.9m

33% cover Nil $ 16.4m $39m Nil Nil $5.7m

34% cover Nil $36.9m $54m $6.8m N i l $6.5m

35% cover SI 9m $57.4m $69m $14.3m Nil $7.3m

36% cover S46m $77.9m $84m $21.8m Nil $8.1m

37% cover $73m $98.4m $99m $29.3m S l . O m $8.9m

38% cover SI 00m $118.9m $114m $36.8m $3.5m $9.8m

39% cover $i"27m $139.4m SI 29m $44.3m $6.0m $10.7m

40% cover $ 1.54m $1 59.9m SI 44m $51.8m $8.5m $11.5m

Sustaining a Healthy Future A consumer consultation on the future of health financing in Australia

Friday 21 May 1999 - 8.30am to 4.00pm North Quay Hotel, 293 North Quay Brisbane

Keynote speakers 9.10am

Is Medicare Sustainable? - Meredith Carter, Health Issues Centre


State Health Financing - Ann Turner, Qld Health’s health financing branch


Queensland’s Public Health System " Dr Peter Davoren - Doctors’ Reform Society


Health Inequalities: The Big Picture Dr Peter Botsman - Brisbane Institute