Revised GP Co-Payment Still Bad Policy: ACOSS
11 December 2014 at 9:20 am
Welfare peak body ACOSS has warned that the Federal Government's revised GP co-payment proposal creates an ongoing risk to people on low incomes who may be discouraged from seeking timely health advice.
Australian Council of Social Service CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said, "We are deeply concerned about people missing out on timely and appropriate medical advice before conditions become serious, due to the increased cost this measure will impose".
"While health care card holders are exempted, they do not cover the many people living with chronic health conditions, nor the growing number of working poor families and elderly people not covered by concessions, who are likely to be hit with a new $5 charge.
“We know that people with chronic health conditions, in particular, need routine health care from GPs and they will be greatly affected by this measure.
“We are also concerned about young people over 16 who are likely to be on low or no incomes and not necessarily on income support because of the tight conditions around independence. They too will be hit.”
Earlier this week Prime Minister Tony Abbott dumped the unpopular $7 GP co-payment instead putting the onus on doctors to charge an extra $5 for appointments. Under the revised plan, bulk billing will remain for pensioners and children aged under 16.
“While we applaud any move to reduce ineffective and poorly targeted spending within the health Budget, this must be done in line with the equally important priority of improving population health,” Dr Goldie said.
“Unfortunately, this measure has the potential to reduce health and wellbeing, particularly when the evidence shows that such price signaling does not distinguish between genuine health needs. It is unclear who the Government sought advice from or consulted with in formulating this new plan.
“We are troubled that it will be patients who will bear the cost, as many doctors will have no option but to demand the $5 from them. It is effectively a co-payment by default."