15 February 2012 Passage of legislation to means test private health insurance through Parliament today represents a betrayal of the 12 million Australians who contribute to their own healthcare, Shadow Minister for Health Peter Dutton said today.
Two and a half million of them will face massive increases in their private health insurance premiums, in some cases up to $2000 a year.
Ultimately it will impact upon every single person with private health insurance, damaging the private health system and in so doing add to pressures on public hospitals to the detriment of those who rely on the public health system.
“The Gillard-Greens Government hails its means test on private health insurance as an “historic victory”, but it is a bald faced betrayal of Australians who were told time and time again Labor would not do it,” Mr Dutton said.
“Since 2003 first Julia Gillard then Kevin Rudd and Nicola Roxon have given commitment after commitment that a Labor Government would not change the insurance rebates.”
“Kevin Rudd made the commitment in writing in 2007; Nicola Roxon made it via Media Release. In February 2009 Minister Roxon restated the commitment only to go back on her word imposing the measure in the 2009 Budget just three months later.”
“First Gillard, then Rudd and Roxon and then Gillard again blatantly lied to Australians and had no compunction in walking away from their promises.”
Mr Dutton said the Gillard Government describes the imposition of the means tests, effectively a new health tax, as a “win” for low and middle income earners, but 5.6 million Australians with private health insurance have incomes of less than $50,000 and 3.4 million have an annual household income of less than $35,000 – all of them will face higher and higher insurance premiums.
“Rather than strengthening Australia’s health system, Gillard’s latest betrayal will cause long-lasting harm,” Mr Dutton said.
“Private health insurance is an article of faith for the Liberal Party and we will restore the rebate as soon as possible.”
However from July, the two and a half million Australians hit by rebate cuts and immediate premium rises face considerable confusion with the onus on them to establish their income and rebate level then advise their health fund or the Tax Office through yet-to-be determined processes.