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Minister Abbott, standing by, doing nothing.

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JULIA GILLARD M.P. Shadow Minister for Health Manager of Opposition Business 26 July 2005


Australians are once again being forced to watch the Minister for Health, Tony Abbott, failing to do his job. Yesterday Minister Abbott launched a report which confirmed 44 per cent of hospital visits attracted a gap of $720 on average.

Australians won’t be surprised by this news because they know that after nine long years of the Howard Government private health insurance is costing them more but when they use it they faced increased gap fees and exemptions.

There could be no clearer example of this than the game playing private health insurers are engaging in to avoid paying for insulin pumps for kids with diabetes. This means privately insured families can still be up for around $8000 for an insulin pump because their private health fund won’t want to pay up.

Minister Abbott didn’t know anything about gap fees until he personally experienced them in October last year. In February he promised to do something about it. But all these months later nothing has been done and Minister Abbott’s only response is to say he will ask doctors and private health insurers to have a chat about it all.

Minister Abbott is the compulsive bystander of Australians politics. He takes his pay cheque for doing nothing more than issuing the occasional newspaper comment about health issues. He takes no responsibility and is clearly out of touch with the crisis health consumers now face.

Minister Abbott should stop talking and start acting. He has the power to force private health insurers to get this problem fixed. As Minister for Health, he has the power in the first quarter of every year to approve or veto increases in private health insurance premiums. Private health insurance is also subsidised by almost $3 billion each year by taxpayers.

Minister Abbott should have the bottle to get tough with the private health insurance industry and force them to deliver value for money products.

After nine long years of the Howard Government, private health insurance costs keep going up while gap fees sky rocket and more exclusions creep in to the system. After nine long years of the Howard Government, Australians are paying more and getting less.

26 July 2005

For more information contact: Kimberley Gardiner 0401 533 002