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Federal Government must act on premiums.



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Michelle O’Byrne MP FEDERAL MEMBER FOR BASS SHADOW PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY FOR COMMUNICATIONS

PRESS RELEASE

FEDERAL GOVERNMENT MUST ACT ON PREMIUMS

The Federal Government must act to stop the out of control increases in private health insurance premiums, the Federal Member for Bass, Michelle O’Byrne said today.

Speaking in the Federal Parliament on its last sitting day before the Budget Session in May, Ms O’Byrne detailed examples of the increases, which had been notified to families in Northern Tasmania.

“These increases are obscene and the Howard Government having lured Australians into private health insurance with the incentive of the thirty percent rebate, now have an obligation to ensure premium increases are kept within affordable limits,” Ms O’Byrne said.

Ms O’Byrne told Parliament of one Launceston family which recently had been informed that their premiums would rise by $91 per month from April 1st.

“The rise is so significant for them, that even though they regard themselves to be on a reasonable family income, they have to very seriously consider withdrawing from the private health insurance system.”

Ms O’Byrne said that there were numerous examples like this, with other families reporting increases of up to 62 percent in their premiums.

“The effect of this will be devastating unless the Government takes some action. Families who stay in the system will be at risk of real financial strain or even debt whilst those who are forced out will increase the queues for already stretched public services,” Ms O’Byrne said.

Ms O’Byrne encouraged members of the public who have been affected by these increases to consider signing the petitions, which are now circulating in Northern Tasmania. She said her office was also cataloguing concerns from constituents.

“If we can truly demonstrate how many families and individuals are affected we might be able to force the Government into some action.”

Canberra, 27th March 2003

Further information: Michelle O’Byrne 0417 379 562

Brian Roe 0438 604 571

Launceston Canberra

(03) 6334 8664 (02) 6277 4278