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Abbott M.I.A. on Medibank.

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JULIA GILLARD M.P. Shadow Minister for Health Manager of Opposition Business 16 August 2005


Today the Minister for Finance has finally confirmed that the Howard Government is again looking to sell Medibank Private. This is despite assurances from the Prime Minister only last week that the sale was not on the Cabinet table for consideration.

The Minister for Health has obviously been sidelined in the Telstra-esque style sale of the government owned health insurer. The off-again, on-again sale can only be viewed in the context of the absolute mismanagement of private health insurance by Tony Abbott.

Minister Abbott has incompetently failed to deliver a market leader in the health insurance sector through Medibank Private by opting to prepare for sale instead. Since its transfer to the Finance portfolio the Howard Government’s primary concern has been the profitability of the fund rather than how effectively it delivers services to

its members.

Medibank Private has recently implemented new “competitive selection” criteria for hospitals, limiting their liability and reducing benefits paid to members unless they attend a hospital that has been approved by Medibank.

The Minister is so out of touch with his own portfolio - claiming to review aspects of private health insurance such as portabil ity when in fact no review was being conducted by his Department.

The Howard Government promised cheaper private health insurance premiums when they introduced Lifetime Health Cover. Despite this promise, the Howard Government has delivered an average premium increase of around 8 per cent a year since 2001. Claims by the Minister for Finance today th at the sale of Medibank would result in reduced premiums is another deliberate false promise.

Tony Abbott continues to tick off increases in private health insurance premiums every year and continues to stand by while exclusions increase, gap payments sky rocket and value for money all but disappear for families.

The impact of the sale of Medibank Private on the Australian community must be the primary consideration when Minister Minchin updates the Medibank sale scoping study, not just how much money the Government will rake in.

16 AUGUST 2005

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