Friday, 10 February 2012

Health Insurance is

one of those things you do not dare be without - or do you? Our family has had health insurance for years. It has, unfortunately, been entirely necessary. The Senior Cat is the Re-made Man. He has two artificial knees (one of them twice) and two artificial shoulder joints as well as a range of non-structural problems which have needed attention.  I have had knee surgery etc.
My sister here has had two children and, of recent years, more hospital admissions than I care to think about.
My other sister has had numerous short admissions to hospital. Even my brother has been hospitalised on a couple of occasions.
We do not however consider ourselves to be a family particularly troubled by ill health.
The only exception to that would have been my mother's last illness. My mother's illness would have bankrupted us and left us homeless. As it was health insurance at least gave her care in hospital when neither my father and I could have physically coped.
When I mention this and health insurance to people who have none their response is often, "But she would have been cared for in a public hospital."
The answer to that is that, "No, she would not have been. There would have been no bed available for her in a public hospital. We would have been expected to cope at home. We would not even have been eligible for the district nursing service apart from a once a week shower (which she would not have been able to have)." My other sister would have been considered to have sufficient medical training to come over and give pain killing injections.
We could have bought other services - and we would have - but we were not eligible for them because my parents had superannuation rather than a pension. Of course they paid into the superannuation fund all their working lives and they paid (and still pay) tax on their superannuation.
Now the Federal government wants to cut the rebate they give on health insurance. They are making the usual "the rich can pay" argument and "it is unfair that the poor should subsidise the rich". It sounds perfectly fair and reasonable put like that.
The problem is that, this time, they have the economics wrong. People like my father already pay the "medicare levy" at the same rate as anyone else with an income. They also pay health insurance  for the sort of reasons I outlined above.
There are also pensioners and families or individuals where there is chronic illness where health insurance is the first bill to be paid. It is essential to their economic as well as their physical well being. Health insurance costs less than what they might otherwise need to spend. Nevertheless it is a struggle to pay for it.
If the government cuts the rebate as planned then there will be people who no longer pay health insurance. Some of these will be healthy people who now decide that the extra money no longer makes it worth paying. As they leave their health funds those left behind will be those who use the fund more. This will raise the premiums. More people will drop out.  Some will be eligible for government services but they will find themselves on the end of the waiting lists. Others will find that, despite paying their taxes, they will not be eligible for the services they need and could once have paid for.
In the end the government move, designed to bring the budget into surplus, will end up costing everyone more.  Indeed the cost could be very high indeed.


Donna Hosie said...

My husband and I have a joint income that means our rebate will now be reduced. I will do the maths and work out what is cheaper: keeping life insurance, or dropping out and paying the extra levy.

With every bill increasing, people are going to cut back on expenses. This is a foolish action by a foolish Government. My husband and I are far from rich. We work bloody hard to give our kids a decent education. That is where our money goes.

Anonymous said...

I am fed up with the endless rant from the government about middle-class welfare. The private health insurance rebate is NOT middle-class welfare. It is just the opposite. It ensures that people pay private health insurance so that they are not in public queues and lets those who need it most get the care they need. This is MADNESS!

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