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ABS report shows we still need to invest in public health.



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JULIA GILLARD M.P.

Shadow Minister for Health Manager of Opposition Business

ABS REPORT SHOWS WE STILL NEED TO INVEST IN PUBLIC HEALTH 22 November 2006

A snapshot of private health insurance released by the ABS today shows that access and affordability are the greatest barriers for many Australians taking out private health insurance.

64% of Australians without private health insurance reported not insuring because they could not afford it or it was too expe nsive, five per cent more people than in 2001.

This was the most commonly reported reason for not having private health insurance across all age groups and income groups according to the ABS.

The Howard Government has allowed private health insurance premiums increase by almost 40 per cent since 2002, making cover too expensive for many Australian families.

The ABS snapshot shows that the likelihood of having private health insurance increases with income. In 2004-05, just 23 per cent of low income Australians had private health insurance compared with 76 per cent of high income Australians.

In 2004-05, 62 per cent of those with private health insurance reported they were in excellent or very good health. Just 35 per cent of those who reported their health was fair or poor had private health insurance.

This data clearly shows that it is low income Australians with poor health that are most likely to be unable to take out private health insurance to cover their medical costs and most likely to rely on the public system.

Even those with private health insurance need the public system for emergency and complex care. In fact the data indicates that 20 per cent of those with private health cover reported their most recent admission had been as a public (Medicare) patient.

The Health Minister, Tony Abbott has announced a number of changes to the private health insurance industry but has failed to invest in public health.

Labor in government will get a better deal for the privately insured and invest in our public health system to ensure all Australians can get care when they need it.

ABS: http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mf/4815.0.55.001?OpenDocument#

22 NOV 2006

www.juliagillard.alp.org.au

CONTACT: KIMBERLEY GARDINER 0417 428 123