Divided Opinion on Australian Health Care

Tony Abbott has now vowed to stop Labor’s means test on the private health insurance rebate—that is, he will do so if he wins government. This initiative would add nearly 2.5 billion dollars to Mr. Abbott’s budget-saving task. The means test will make private health coverage more expensive for wealthy Australians; this was passed by the House of Representatives and will make it through the Senate, with the support of the Greens. It seems an extra 50,000 people took out health coverage in the three months leading up to December 2011.

Mr. Abbott said the insurance rebate would be an article of faith for the Coalition and that they would restore the rebate, in government,as soon as humanly possible. Previously, Mr. Abbott refused to specify whether or not he would overturn the charge in question if he were to win office. Now,he is finally speaking about this topic, and opinions on what he has to say are, as would be expected, divided.

The Coalition, up to this point, has already vowed to get rid of the government’s carbon tax and mining tax, as well as promising to deliver personal income tax cuts; this would require budget savings of up to 70 billion Australian dollars. Penny Wong, the Finance Minster, said that the health insurance pledge was just more fiscal recklessness and that the economic team of the coalition cannot even say if or when they will actually deliver a surplus. The means test in question passed the lower house, and the change will make private health insurance more expensive for nearly 2.5 millionAustralian citizens.

Mr. Abbott believes in the existence of his political movement in order to give more support and encouragement to those who, in his words, wish to get ahead; those wishing to get ahead, as he puts it, would include such institutions as independent schools, private superannuation,private health insurance seekers, and other institutions and individual citizens.

Tanya Plibersek, the Health Minister, said that in her mind the Coalition simply wants everyday taxpayers to help the nation’s richest citizens to buy private coverage. She heavily disparaged the idea and saw it as one more way in which the rich get richer on others’ dollars.

Richard Butler, who is the First Assistant Secretary of the Department of Health and Ageing, has estimated that it would be up to individual citizens to inform their own health funds of whether or not they are entitled to the full 30 percent private health insurance rebate which will be means tested in from July of this year.

Those earning more than 129,000 dollars a year, and those families whose earning come to more than 258,000 per year, would then lose the rebate completely.  As with every motion of its kind, the citizens of Australia are divided as to what this would mean for healthcare and,of course, on a personal level.

Claire Al-Aufi

Claire Al-Aufi is a contributing author for Hive Health Media who provides updates on health and fitness news.

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