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Lifetime Health Cover TV ads causing distress.

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Lifetime Health Cover TV Ads Causing Distress Jenny Macklin - Shadow Minister for Health

Media Statement - 21 June 2000

"The Government's grossly misleading 'run for cover' Lifetime Health Cover advertising campaign is causing a lot of unnecessary anxiety as the 30th June deadline approaches," Shadow Minister for Health, Jenny Macklin, said today.

Ms Macklin said she had received numerous calls from people who were upset because they felt the Government was blackmailing them into private health insurance. Many also thought that Medicare was in danger under the Howard Government.

"These TV commercials make people feel they are not covered for unforseen health costs if they don't have private health insurance, and that is why the funds are receiving so many calls in these last weeks. The funds must make every effort to answer the public's inquiries," Ms Macklin said.

"The Government's advertising campaign should also include more information about the scheme's hardship provisions including who is eligible for exemptions and how to apply, because this is the subject of most of the calls to my office.

"I am very concerned that many people feel they are being blackmailed into taking out private health cover. Within our Medicare system, private health insurance is an optional extra - it is not a necessity. No one has to join and everyone should be reminded they have health cover under Medicare - for doctors and public hospitals," Ms Macklin said.

"My message is don't feel pressured by this campaign, you are covered by Medicare and a future Labor Government will provide additional money for public hospitals," Ms Macklin said.

Ms Macklin said that Lifetime Health Cover scheme is based on the belief that it is fair that long-term fund members should pay less in recognition of their continuous contributions compared with those who join later in life or to have a specific procedure paid for through the private system.

"Lifetime Health Cover will be maintained by Labor. However, reforms will be necessary to improve the scheme's hardship provisions," Ms Macklin said.

Authorised by Geoff Walsh, 19 National Circuit, Barton ACT 2600.