1 July 2012 Subjects: Private health insurance premium increases due to means test commencement
DUTTON: Today marks for Australian families a double slug. Of course the carbon tax is going to be imposed on Australian families. But also, the dramatic increase in the cost of premiums for private health insurance. Australian families are under huge cost of living pressures. People are facing higher electricity costs, they’ve now got a carbon tax and for half the population who have private health insurance, from today people’s private health insurance premiums will rise. This is a fact for many Australian families who are doing it tough. The other impact from today will be extra pressure on our public hospitals. Australia’s public hospitals will face extra pressure because of this change to private health insurance rebates, because people will drop their private health insurance and people will downgrade their private health insurance and that means more pressure on our doctors and nurses in emergency departments and for people on waiting lists.
And that’s why I think Wayne Swan is treating the Australian public like a joke at the moment. I just don’t think Wayne Swan and Julia Gillard get it. Australian families are struggling to pay their mortgage payments each month. People are struggling to balance their books to provide for their families and now in addition to the carbon tax they are going to have an increase in their private health insurance premiums. We warned Julia Gillard about this and we warned Wayne Swan about it but today people face the cobra strike of an increase in their private health insurance premiums. It’s effective today. I think that’s an enormous pressure on Australian families particularly in addition to the impost of the carbon tax and all of the other cost of living increases that Australian families are facing right now.
REPORTER: Do you have any idea of the extent of exodus from private health insurance funds?
DUTTON: We know that about 100,000 Australians, if not more, have prepaid their private health insurance premiums. So incompetent is the Gillard Government that they provided a loophole for people to prepay their private health insurance, so over a hundred thousand did and they got a discount. So those people have avoided that strike but for average mums and dads who are paying their private health insurance, they are going to see an increase in their premiums and that’s bad for families. So we’ll see the figures as they play out over the course of the next 12 months but it stands to reason and anecdotally we have already seen the evidence that people are downgrading their cover. Their losing ancillary cover and for those people it will mean that they are going to turn up at public hospitals. It’s going to put extra pressure on public hospitals. I think Julia Gillard and Wayne Swan should apologise to the Australian people for that
REPORTER: Will you restore the subsidy of you’re elected?
DUTTON: We’ve said that of course we face a very difficult budget situation. This is a government that had $70 billion in assets they had no deficit when they came into government and they have racked up enormous debt, just like Anna Bligh did in Queensland. We will restore the private health insurance rebate as soon as it’s possible. We are the party that has provided assistance over the course of the last decade to half the population that have private health insurance and we want to provide that assurance into the future. You have to get a good balance between the public and private system. At the moment Wayne Swan and Julia Gillard are whacking families. They’re whacking them from every direction and private health insurance is just one extra pressure on families that don’t need it.
REPORTER: You have to be a pretty high income earner to reach that subsidy level as things stand. It’s hardly working families its people earning hundreds of thousands of dollars a year?
DUTTON: That’s not the case. If you are say a TV reporter and you’re a husband’s a police officer, or someone who works perhaps as a journalist if you’re on seventy or eighty thousand dollars each, you’re working hard, you’re paying childcare so that you both can work. You have got a mortgage that you need to pay. You aren’t on a king’s ransom and you will be slugged by this huge increase on your premiums. The other point is that people on lower incomes who retain their private health insurance, will also see an increase over time in their premiums because what happens is if people are on higher incomes if they’re younger in particular they are the ones who flee private health insurance and if you leave a pool who are sick, who are claiming on their private health insurance, then premiums will rise for all people who have private health insurance and that’s the big wack that’s coming from Wayne Swan and Julia Gillard. Families just can’t afford Labor. This is a government that talks about working families and all they can do is put extra pressure on working families and half population that have private health insurance they will see a rise in their premiums from today and over the next couple of years and it will put extra pressure on our public hospitals.
REPORTER: You mentioned the carbon tax Wayne Swan says the sky hasn’t fallen in. They say you have overplayed this.
DUTTON: I just say for Australian families who are under enormous pressure Labor just doesn’t get it and Wayne Swan with his silly smirk can scoff at Australian families and show them the contempt that he does on a regular basis but families are struggling. They can’t afford these new taxes. They can’t afford this huge tax impost that is going to come to those who are privately insured. But why would a Labor Government want to put extra pressure on our public hospitals? They have been warned about all this and Labor forgets the pressure Australian families are under right now.