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Health insurance must be affordable for consumers.

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Consumers shaping health in Australia Consumers Health Forum of Australia PO Box 3099 Manuka ACT 2603

T: 02 6273 5444

ABN 59 369 286 13

Media Release

8 May 2009

Health insurance must be affordable for consumers

Consumers are opposed to any measure that will cause people to drop their private health insurance, the Executive Director of the Health Consumers Forum of Australia, Carol Bennett, said today.

She was responding to the budget proposals to reduce the rebate for higher income earners for private health insurance and increase the Medicare surcharge for people without health insurance.

‘We hope the Government is right in its modelling that only 0.3% of people will drop their health insurance if the rebate is reduced,’ Ms Bennett said.

‘If people drop their health insurance, it will affect their access to health care, put increased pressure on an already stressed public hospital system, and put further pressure on insurance premiums to increase. Consumers are also concerned the public system costs would blow out and negate any savings the rebate cut will give.

‘Private health insurance is essential for people with chronic conditions as they regularly need quick access to services that private insurance offers. Many people already make sacrifices to keep up their insurance payments and meet the out-of-pocket costs. Any further increase in the cost of private health insurance will hurt them and their families.

‘Reducing the rebate, effectively increasing the cost, must be offset. We suggest Government ensures that savings are directed back into the health system to give equitable access to those people who need it.

‘Any future premium increases must be kept to an absolute minimum if we want consumers to stay in the private health system.

‘The rebate cuts don’t kick in until next year, which gives people time to consider their options. They will also need to factor in the costs of the proposed increase to the Medicare surcharge, which may be an incentive for people to keep their insurance.

‘We don’t believe the Government can compromise on health even during this economic crisis. The short and long-term costs to people’s health and the health care system are just too high.’

For further information contact

CHF Executive Director, Carol Bennett 6273 5444 0417 043 547

CHF Communications Advisor, Penny Gibson 6273 5444 0409 715 385