08 February - Australian families will pay about $200 a year more for private health insurance following today’s announcement by Tanya Plibersek of a 5.6 per cent increase to premiums.
Costs continue to balloon for 10.6 million Australians with hospital cover following Labor’s nearly $4 billion cuts to private health.
The Government’s cuts, which are forcing up premiums, occurred despite Julia Gillard and other Labor members promising over many years that Labor wouldn’t attack private health insurance.
Julia Gillard, as Labor’s health spokesperson, previously said “Labor is committed to the maintenance of this rebate and I have given an iron- clad guarantee of that on a number of occasions”.
Shadow Health Minister Peter Dutton said the cumulative effect of Labor’s changes and premium increases is straining family budgets.
“Tanya Plibersek might be pleased about today’s announcement, but ordinary Australians struggling to meet repeated increases to premiums and changes to private health insurance are unlikely to share her enthusiasm,” said Mr Dutton.
The full consequences of the Government’s recent changes are yet to be felt, with the Government’s private health regulator reporting $1.2 billion in premium prepayments for the June 2012 quarter.
“Hundreds of thousands of Australians prepaid their premiums for 12 months or more, delaying the pain of Labor’s changes and premium increases,” said Mr Dutton.
“The full consequences of Labor’s cuts won’t be known for some time. In some ways, Labor has been saved by their own stupidity with another implementation blunder.
“Recent announcements in MYEFO will push premium costs even higher. Legislation before the Parliament at the moment proposes to again increase premiums by 27.5 per cent for mainly lower income earners that are affected,” said Mr Dutton.
Labor’s attacks on private health will put more pressure on public hospitals which are already struggling under Labor’s $1.6 billion cut to hospital funding.
Media contact: Tom Fleming 0437 250 045