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Attack on health misleading and irresponsible

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Media Release Dr Bob Woods Shadow Minister for Health


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If a Coalition Government's plan to give up to $800 per year to the millions of Australians who take out private health insurance is a tax, then "give us more taxes" Federal Shadow Minister for Health Dr Bob Woods said today.

Dr Woods was responding to a newspaper report that the Coalition health policy was a hidden health tax.

" I am appalled that such unbalanced and misleading views could find their way into a paper which millions of Australian rely on for truth and accuracy " said Dr Woods today.

1 1 The groups chosen to voice their opinions certainly give rise to the suspicion that the report was meant to be no more than a hatchet job to scare the most vulnerable in our society, the sick and the elderly.

Responses to the Coalition Health policy by m*yor industry health groups such as the Australian Hospitals Association, the Australian Health Insurance Association, the Centre for Independent Studies, and the Australian Private Hospitals Association, who

all endorse nuyor aspects of the Coalition Policy, have not been detailed in the article.

It was the AHIA who said " This is the best health policy either political party has produced in at least the last decade.....By encouraging more people to be insured the policy will deal with the major problem of Medicare: the lack of sufficient dollars to provide adequate health care in Australia, brought about by the current inefficient and

inequitable scheme..."

Also not detailed in the article are comments from the 40% of the Australian population who currently have private health insurance, yet receive no assistance from the current Government, and who are happy that they are going to be rewarded by a Coalition Government.

The point that has been ignored is that the Coalition Government will allow choice in health care.

Medicare will be retained and access to public hospitals will continue for all those who choose to stay whh the public system. No one will be forced to take out private health insurance. COMMONWEALTH


For farther information contact Dr Wood» or Leisa O'Connor on 02 746 3200. After hours contact Dr Woods 02 744 1372 or Leisa O'Connor 02 797 6233.

For those who choose to however, there win be a tax credit of up to $tiUU per year to , reword them for looking after themselves and reducing the burden on, and therefore the waiting lists at, public hospitals.

A staggering 65% of the population, those people who earn up to $30,000, will be eligible for tax credits for health. The aged and low income earners will receive the most. Currently they receive nothing from this Government. Health fund premiums will fall as younger fitter members join the funds, On conservative estimates an extra one million people will take out private health insurance and if they spend, say $1000 each, this means that more than $1 billion will flow into both the public and the private system.

This will allow the improvement of the underfunded and under resourced public system for those who cannot afford or do not want private health insurance and want access to public hospitals. It will also give those people who want access to a private hospital and their own doctor, the ability to purchase private health insurance.

Despite Government scaremongering, doctors fees will not rise to the AMA schedule fee level. There is currently a Medicare Benefits Schedule of fees and an AMA schedule of fees. Doctors can choose to charge at the MBS fee or the AMA fee. Most doctors charge at the MBS fee.

Why? Because clearly the forces of competition are at work and the doctor who charges the lower fee will attract the most patients. Those patients who choose to consult doctors who charge above the schedule fee however, are prohibited by the current Government from insuring themselves against the additional costs. In recognition of the

fact that Australians currently pay more than $660 million in out of pocket expenses each year the Coalition is going to allow people to purchase gap insurance for all but 15% of the doctors fee up to an AMA agreed level.

The taking out of gap insurance will be optional, not mandatory. No one will be forced to take it out.

Bulk billing will be retained for more than 4 million aged people and low income earners and other health care card holders under a Coalition Government. One of the greatest problems, which the Government acknowledged when it introduced its $2.50 co-payment for medical services, is that a totally free service has led to overuse and overservicing. This level of abuse of taxpayers funds can not be allowed to continue and the money saved will be used to fund other areas of the health portfolio.

The Coalition welcomes fair and detailed analysis but not one sided and irresponsible comments.

The Coalition has a comprehensive policy to restructure the delivery of health services and improve the quality of care. It is the Government that should be asked how it intends to redress the crisis in our health care system which its' policies have created".


December 20th 1992

For further information contact Dr Woods or Leisa O'Connor on 02 746 3200. After hour» contact Dr Woods 02 744 1872 or Leisa O'Connor 02 797 6233.