12 February 2012
Andrew Wilkie’s decision this week on whether to support or oppose means testing of private health insurance rebates is critical for half the Australian population and more than 60 per cent of people in his Denison electorate.
Mr Wilkie said late last week he was “inclined” to support the Gillard Government’s legislation to means test the 30 per cent rebates which make health insurance affordable for many Australians.
The Shadow Minister for Health Peter Dutton today appealed to Mr Wilkie to carefully consider the information before him.
“The Gillard Government lied to Mr Wilkie about poker machine reform and betrayed him.”
“Why would he trust the information put to him by this Government on private health insurance?”
Mr Dutton said Mr Wilkie should not base his decisions on Government lies. To do so would amount to a betrayal of his constituents.
“The numbers to be relied upon come from the health funds – they have the names and addresses of their members, they know the numbers better than anyone else.”
“They say 60 per cent of adults in Denison pay for private health insurance,” Mr Dutton said.
“That’s 43,000 people – many more when family policies cover children.”
“The Gillard Government tells Mr Wilkie that only a few high income earners will be impacted by its means tests – nothing could be further from the truth.”
Mr Dutton said on the Government’s own numbers around 30,000 people would quit private health insurance, independent analysis says its likely to be hundreds of thousands adding up to more than one million over several years.
More than 2.4 million health fund members will face immediate premium increases up to 43 per cent if the means tests are introduced.
“When people are dropping their coverage the insurance pool shrinks those that are left face higher premiums. Higher premiums make insurance unaffordable for more people, they drop their coverage and premiums rise again – it’s a vicious circle,” Mr Dutton said.
Mr Dutton said half the 11 million Australians with private health insurance have incomes less than $50,000; three million have annual household incomes under $35,000.
“Mr Wilkie needs to consider these people as he reaches his decision on this crucial legislation which has severe implications for both private and public health care sectors.”