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Health insurance price hike hits families.

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Health insurance price hike hits families

Thousands of ordinary Australian families are struggling to pay existing private health insurance premiums, let alone the new price hike of eight per cent, Senator Brian Harradine said today. Health Minister Tony Abbott announced the rise in premiums earlier this week.

“Private health cover is important because it gives assurance to 42 per cent of Australians, including pensioners and other lower income people”, Senator Harradine said. “It also reduces the strain on the public health system. However, if families and individuals continue to face rising premiums they will begin to leave health funds, despite the thirty per cent health insurance rebate.

“These falling numbers of average and lower income families would further skew the Government’s thirty per cent rebate towards higher income people and in effect distort the main purpose of the Government’s subsidy.”

Senator Harradine called upon the Health Minister, Tony Abbott, to urgently address the problems that lie behind rising premiums.

“The Government should put measures in place to ensure people on modest and meagre incomes do not become priced out of private health insurance, since premium increases are an annual event and have risen by over seven per cent in each of the last three years alone”, Senator Harradine said.

“The Health Minister should implement changes so that no patient is confronted with a bill without having known the full cost before their operation.

“With health costs rising the Government together with the health insurance companies must ensure that the most vulnerable and disadvantaged people are protected in a system which at the moment fails to restrain the cost of care for the average Australian.”

4 March 2005

Senator Brian Harradine, Tel. 03 6234 5122