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Increase savings to meet future care costs.

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Media Release



Federal Member for Jagajaga

Shadow Minister for Health


24 February 1999




Shadow Health Minister, Ms Jenny Macklin said there needed to be a community debate on how best to prov ide for the increased health and care needs of an ageing population.


In her first major policy speech since becoming Shadow Minister, Ms Macklin canvassed a range of proposals that have been made for savings incentives to complement universal health insurance under Medicare. “Governments need to act now to put in place the policies that will deliver improvements in health if costs are to be spread as evenly as possible across generations.”


“Many people are going around saying that there is a looming health crisis because of the ageing of the community. It is being wrongly used as an argument that in some way “Medicare won’t cope”. This is not the case if we come to terms with the issue now and plan for it well in advance.


“The increased length of life is certainly not a disaster — it is something we should be celebrating. For a start, one reason that people are living longer is that they are generally healthier.


“If we are to cope with the direct health costs we need Medicare, our national insurer, keeping costs down. Increased competition by private insurers to pay hospital or medical costs will only drive up the cost of health care as in the US health system.


“There are a lot of related care costs which older people draw on including ancillary health services, nursing home costs or the cost of staying at home using community support services. We need to debate the merits of a long term funding approach which may include either a superannuation or levy component to assist people to meet these long term costs.


“As the population ages, it will be desirable to encourage people to continue in employment and to keep saving. There is a real risk that with insufficient savings and a growing average life span there will be an increasing number of older people who get to the end of their own resources and are forced back onto Government assistance at the time their needs are highest,” Ms Macklin said.


For further information: Andrew Herington 0418 573 504 Jenny Macklin 0419 S93 622