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Medicare introduction raises questions



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Jsk THE SENATE OFFICE OF SENATOR MESSNER SENATOR FQR

SOUTH AUSTRALIA

MEDICARE INTRODUCTION RAISES QUESTIONS

Before Medicare commences on 1 February next year there are a number of matters that should be carefully considered by all Australians, it has been stated.

Senator Tony Messner (Lib-SA) said that there was no doubt the full implications of Medicare were not clear to many people.

"Every person should therefore carefully study what the

Government intends and take great care in reaching decisions for themselves and their families."

Senator Messner said it was important that private health insurance be retained at least until people were satisfied that Medicare meets their needs.

"I am concerned that many people mistakenly believe that Medicare will provide a lot more than it will."

"Medicare will refund 85% of the scheduled fee charged by a doctor for a consultation at his surgery. However, Medicare regulations prevent private health funds offering gap insurance for the balance."

"If you enter a public hospital and are attended by the hospital doctor not a doctor of your own choice, Medicare will meet the cost of both the doctor and the hospital."

"However, if you wish to be attended by your own doctor in a

public hospital, you will be required to pay all above 85% of the doctor's scheduled fee and all the hospital charges. In this situation, Medicare will make no contribution at all to hospital

charges."

Senator Messner said that patients without private hospital insurance will receive no assistance at all .

"These people will have to pay the full cost."

"It is important to remember that a hospital patient is only covered by Medicare if that patient is in a public hospital and is attended by a doctor employed by that hospital."

Senator Messner said that people who wished to exercise freedom of choice and be treated by their own doctor in a public or

private hospital would need private hospital insurance or alternatively, would have to meet the full cost from their own resources.

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"The Government proposes to finance a part of ^ the cost of

Medicare by way of a levy which is, in fact, just another tax. The levy of one per cent of taxable income commences in February next year and will be collected with your other income tax if your taxable income exceeds the prescribed threshold. Taxation notices of assessment will specify the amount of Medicare levy that is involved."

"For the general purposes of the income tax law the Medicare levy will be treated as income tax. In other words, people's tax will rise to pay for Medicare."

"Additional . to the levy all taxpayers will have to pay extra taxes to finance Medicare. This is because the levy of one per cent of taxable income is insufficient to cover the cost of Medicare."

Senator Messner said Medicare attacks the freedom of choice of patients because it would not cover people for accommodation in a private hospital or choice of doctor in a public hospital.

"Patients who wish to go on choosing their own doctor and

accommodation in a private hospital should retain private insurance after Medicare is introduced."

"Regrettably, Medicare must be seen as a lead up to the eventual nationalisation of medical services."

"Under Medicare, public hospital patients must be treated by a hospital, doctor. "

"Patients cannot be treated by a doctor of their own choice in a public hospital unless the patient agrees to pay part of the doctor's fee and all the hospital charges. " ^

"I urge everyone to be careful in relation to Medicare decisions. If, as a hospital patient you wish to choose your own doctor, private insurance is essential unless you expect to have the cash resources to meet those costs." .

ADELAIDE 8 December 1983