Finding another $6 to pay for a visit to the doctor might not sound so bad after all.
That’s because the Abbott government’s Commission of Audit believes some of us should be making a co-payment of $15, once we’ve exceeded 15 visits to our GP or accessed Medicare-funded services.
Concession card holders, such as pensioners, would have to make a $5 co-payment.
You won’t be able to insure against co-payments and doctors who bulk-bill won’t be able to waive the payment.
The commission argues the measure is needed because Australia’s health system is not well-equipped for the future.
That means meeting the health costs of an ageing population.
The government’s flagged, but yet-to-be-confirmed co-payment of $6 after about 10 or 12 visits, looks pretty tame by comparison.
In a double-whammy, the commission also wants to increase co-payments on taxpayer-funded medicines.
Instead of paying $36.90, it recommends we pay $41.90. Concession card holders would still pay $6 for each prescription but once their safety net limit of $360 was reached they should pay $2 instead of getting medicines free.
The commission recommends the pharmacy sector be opened to competition, which is code for allowing the major supermarkets to establish in-store pharmacies.
It also wants the private health market to provide greater incentives by allowing funds to provide coverage for GP visits and offer premiums that take into account lifestyle factors such as smoking.
Higher-income earners should be forced to take out private health insurance.
As well, the commonwealth’s contribution to the growth in the cost of public hospital services should be capped at 45 per cent.