Seniors Struggle to Visit Doctor - Report
31 October 2013 at 9:01 am
Seniors are missing out on healthcare and public transport to keep up with the costs of basic essentials such as utility bills, according to a new report from National Seniors Australia Productive Ageing Centre.
The report, A squeeze on spending? An update on household living costs for senior Australians, reveals more than half a million low-income senior households are spending on average four-fifths of their incomes on essentials such as water, gas, insurance, medical services and rates – all of which have risen by more than double the inflation rate over the past five years.
The report showed 15 per cent of households – mostly pensioner households – were no longer spending any money on medical fees, public transport, eating out, clothing, cigarettes and alcohol, or car and home maintenance.
National Seniors chief executive Michael O’Neill said some of the findings from today’s report were alarming.
"This study looked at household cost of living pressures affecting the over 50s and examined the changes in spending behaviour caused by higher prices in essential items,” O’Neill said.
“A very worrying trend is the fact that some seniors may not be receiving health care when they need it because they have been forced to cut their spending.
“We are also seeing an increase in low-income seniors living in rental houses, making them extremely vulnerable to the ups and downs of the housing market’s rent cycle.”
The report also found the number of senior households reliant on the pension grew by 55,000 (6.5 per cent) between 2006 and 2011 as a result of more baby boomers reaching age 65.
The biggest price increase was for electricity, which rose by 83 per cent – more than six times the overall rate of inflation.
In 2011, almost a quarter of a million (245,000) senior households said they had been unable to pay their utility (electricity, gas or telephone) bills on time and the proportion of pensioners unable to pay their utilities bills rose by 13 per cent over five years.
Over the five years to March 2013, the majority of the top 10 price rises were for essential household goods or services.