Families will be punished for their hard work by private health insurance means test

February 13, 2012

Federal Member for Forrest Nola Marino today attacked the Gillard Government for punishing local families with soaring health costs to prop up its fragile budget.

In her speech in Parliament this morning Mrs Marino said Labor had declared war on individuals earning over $80,000 and couples earning over $160,000 a year by cutting their access to Medicare rebates for private health insurance.

“The contempt this Government has for those Australians who are working hard to achieve a degree of modest financial security is a national disgrace,” Mrs Marino said.

“This underhand and immoral piece of cost shifting to hide their economic failures will be a hit to the finances of families who are investing in their own health.

“The Coalition believes in rewarding hard work and letting people manage their own affairs.”

Mrs Marino said the greatest risk burden was carried by the health system itself.

“These changes may well see millions of Australians drop out of private health insurance and put increased pressure on State health services,” Mrs Marino said.

“It would see blow outs in waiting times for all public treatments,”

Western Australia has a higher number of private health members than eastern states counterparts.

The state’s biggest health fund HBF has warned that more than 200,000 West Australians face an increase of up to $1900 a year for their health insurance.

There are 61,271 HBF members in the Forrest electorate.

Mrs Marino took a HBF petition to Parliament with 1911 signatures from constituents demanding that the damaging changes be opposed.

Report into proposed changes

The Deloitte report released by the Australian Health Insurance Industry Association in May 2011 said:

  • 175,000 Australians would drop private health insurance within a year of means tests being applied
  • 1.6 million would withdraw over the next five years
  • 4.3 million would withdraw over the next five years
  • Private health insurance premiums will rise 10 per cent above what would otherwise be expected. As premiums rise, private health cover will become less affordable for all consumers, that is, not just those who are in the tiers

HBF petition statements, samples

“As a middle income worker I am getting sick and tired of constantly taking two steps backwards by paying more of my income in extra service charges and more taxes.”

“As a single parent of a teenage daughter, I am unlikely to be able to afford any increase in my private health insurance premiums and will probably opt to cancel them and rely on medicare. I am sure this is what many people will do and it can’t be of benefit to the economy to have this happen.”

“This is so short sighted. By once again punishing those who try to do the right thing, you will force those to leave their private health fund and return to the public system – and then the government will pay for us all. How dumb!”

“I truly understand that some benefits to the community need to be means-tested. However, I feel the government is out of touch with what a \middle-income\” actually is and what this can pay for.”