Take Action to Save Your Rebate

12 Jun 2013


Station: 5AA
Program: Breakfast
Date: 12th June 2013
Time: 7:07AM
Compere: Alex Ward and Jane Reilly

Interviewee: Dr Michael Armitage, CEO, Private Healthcare Australia

ALEX WARD: Michael, with Private Healthcare Australia, do you have concerns about the change, it’s law as I understand it, to the private health insurance rebate that people with that cover would enjoy or otherwise if they choose to cut back on their private health insurance, they have to pay a higher Medicare Levy Surcharge?
DR MICHAEL ARMITAGE: Look, we are very concerned about it as an industry and as an industry we represent 54 per cent of Australians who have some form of private health insurance.
ALEX WARD: Well, we’re encouraged to do so, aren’t we. If you don’t have that, then you have to pay more for Medicare.
DR MICHAEL ARMITAGE: And look that’s exactly the way it should be. I mean people ought to be able to get choice in their care we believe. But the new legislation will in fact see that by 2022 which is only a decade away, which is why the company that we asked to look at it chose a decade, 2.6 million people will actually leave private health insurance.
DR MICHAEL ARMITAGE: And the sad point about that, is that they then come onto the public hospital waiting list because what happens is, even though they might think I’m really fit and healthy at the moment, people do get ill unexpectedly and if they’ve got a very large charge for surgery for a knee operation or whatever, they’ll then go onto the public hospital waiting list rather than pay that charge. So this is going to affect everybody.
The Opposition, the Coalition did say that they would be attempting to reverse these changes once they’ve got the budget under control. So I’m – I personally urge everyone to ring their Coalition member and say you make sure when the budget’s right, that, you know, you make a commitment to reversing these changes. Because I think it’s good for everybody to be frank that they are reversed.
JANE REILLY: Michael, your private health insurance has become so expensive and especially for retirees who have budgeted, you know, a certain amount to live on each year and then they’re not seeing the growth in their superannuation. A lot of them are having to make the really hard decision to drop out. And that’s the last thing we want to happen especially at that time of your life when you probably need probably more healthcare than you’ve ever had before.
DR MICHAEL ARMITAGE: That’s absolutely right, Jane. And that’s why it really I guess annoys us that these changes have been a continual theme over the last five years. Because we get regular input from people who say things like – you know, I am a pensioner or I ‘m on a fixed income, I’ve been insured for 40 years and now these changes which will inevitably lead to an increase in costs, means I will either have to downgrade or I will drop my insurance.
And we’re already seeing that. Even the Government’s own fund reported to the Senate recently that they’re seeing an increase in the number of people who are down-selling. In other words, who are either dropping their insurance altogether or saying – look, I’ll get a policy with less things covered to try and make sure I’ve got some coverage. So it’s a really dangerous thing for all Australians, not only people who are insured because as I said, those people who aren’t insured who are already on public hospital waiting list as we speak today. As people drop out of private health insurance, those people on the public hospital waiting lists are suddenly going to be competing with everyone that drops their insurance.
JANE REILLY: Look, Michael, I know a lot of our listeners will be really concerned about this. This is a really important issue for them. How can they find out more? And just tell us again how they can let, you know, their politicians know that they’re not happy.
DR MICHAEL ARMITAGE: Sure. Well, I think the one easy way of doing it is we’ve put up a website and it’s called You Should Know. One word, YouShouldKnow.com.au and it’s things that people should know about private health insurance. A lot of the information is up there. Certainly we made a submission to the Senate about these bills yesterday and that’s the submission and the media releases up there. So there’s a lot of other information that people get. That’s YouShouldKnow.com.au
But as I said, the Liberal Party has actually indicated that they believe that at the present state of the budget, they have to pass these changes. I think that’s very unfortunate and we’re disappointed about that. But members of your audience could ring their local Liberal Member of Parliament and say – we want you to make a firm commitment to reverse these changes say in the first term of government if they were to win on 14 September.
Because unless there’s pressure from the general public, politicians as you know, we all know, have a tendency to forget issues and move onto the issue of the day rather than things that are perhaps more important.
JANE REILLY: Michael, thank you so much for joining us this morning.


Private Healthcare Australia is urging all YouShouldKnow subscribers to also contact their Coalition MPs and ask them to restore the Rebate in Government.

Contact details for your MP are online at www.aph.gov.au under the Members’ section.