Painfully Concerning: Australian Seniors Deeply Worried By Spiralling Out-of-pocket Health Costs
National Seniors Australia (NSA), the consumer peak body for seniors, has asked that reforms withhold from upping health care costs, in an attempt to aid older Australians struggling to maintain the financial burden of private health cover.
Ian Henschke, the Chief Advocate for NSA, has stated that over the last decade, health costs have increased by 56.7 per cent, with inflation increasing by 23.5 per cent. With the underlying cause of increases remaining unaddressed, Australian seniors will be facing skyrocketing health insurance premiums, which have increased by a whopping 66 per cent in the same period.
On April 1, private health funds upped their rates by 3.25 per cent, an increase which has left more Aussie battlers struggling to make ends meet. Seniors are also being slugged by a reduction in the government rebate, which means they are paying more of their premium.
Comparison companies around Australia, such as Health Insurance Comparison, are experiencing an influx of customers scrabbling to compare their funds since the April 1 rate rise. Going through an Australian comparison company could actually knock hundreds off the cost of your health insurance.
After the Howard government introduced higher rebates of 40% for seniors over 70, and 35% for seniors aged between 65 and 70, the Rudd government froze increases in rebate payments to the level of inflation. This rebate has shrunk to 33.4% if you are over 70, 29.2% for those aged 65-70, and 25.1% for those under 65. So now seniors are dealing with a double whammy of paying higher prices with lower rebates.
A recent survey of six thousand NSA members revealed that seniors want lower out-of-pocket fees for specialists, cost-effective private health cover premiums, and more funding from Medicare across more services, including public hospitals.
“People on low and fixed incomes are particularly hard hit and are forced to put off medical treatment or cut their private health cover,” said Henschke, in a recent interview.* “Gap costs are a major contributor to rising out-of-pocket expenses”.
With out-of-pocket expenses continuing to rise alongside GP fees, Medicare rebates cannot keep up. Insurance policies are confusing to compare, and external hospital fees are just adding to health costs, said Henschke. “Patients’ bills often include costs for multiple doctors, including surgeons, anaesthetists, pathologists and radiologists”.
“The total cost of in-hospital treatments may not become clear until months after a hospital stay and may run to thousands of dollars. This causes unbearable stress for older people, especially those on low and fixed incomes.”
That’s why Health Insurance Comparison has been working so tirelessly to assist Australian seniors in the face of these massive reforms. Thousands of older Aussies have no idea how much comparing their existing health insurance plan could help them save.
Aussies who compared with Health Insurance Comparison saved $362.38** off their yearly premiums last year alone, and haven’t looked back. Thousands of senior Australians have already jumped on board, and comparing with the team at Health Insurance Comparison could offer you significant savings, especially now the April 1 reforms have come into effect.
“We’re urging all older Australians to join our campaign to cut health costs and tell doctors, insurers and the government what you want,” urged Henschke.
*Source for Mr Henschke: https://nationalseniors.com.au/news/media-release/spiralling-out-of-pocket-health-costs-biggest-worry-for-seniors
**Average savings based off 14,534 customers in 2018.
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This article is opinion only and should not be taken as medical or financial advice. Check with a financial professional before making any decisions.