Changes to ben­e­fit the el­derly


NA­TIONAL Se­niors Aus­tralia has wel­comed the Fed­eral Govern­ment’s re­forms to health in­sur­ance, in­clud­ing the Pros­the­ses List for de­vices that it said had been priced too high for too long.

The govern­ment un­veiled the changes ear­lier this month aimed at bring­ing sta­bil­ity to a health in­sur­ance sec­tor that is un­der pres­sure from fall­ing mem­ber­ship.

Na­tional Se­niors chief ad­vo­cate Ian Hen­schke said the re­forms were long over­due.

“Pros­the­ses in­clude ev­ery­thing from a new knee or hip to a heart valve,” Mr Hen­schke said.

“Th­ese are not op­tional ex­tras – they are ne­ces­si­ties to im­prove the lives of peo­ple, or even save their lives, so the re­forms will help en­sure se­niors are not priced out of de­vices they may need ur­gently.”

Mr Hen­schke said older peo­ple also wel­comed the new rat­ing sys­tem for health cover poli­cies.

“Rat­ing them as gold, sil­ver, bronze and ba­sic is a lot sim­pler than the com­plex process in place at present,” Mr Hen­schke said.

“It will al­low peo­ple choos­ing or switch­ing health funds to com­pare poli­cies more eas­ily.

“Th­ese re­forms are a step in the right di­rec­tion but it re­mains to be seen if they can stop health fund mem­bers from down­grad­ing their level of cover or drop­ping it al­to­gether.

“Many older peo­ple are bail­ing out of health funds be­cause they can­not af­ford to pay the pre­mi­ums, as well as the power bill, and put food on the ta­ble.”

Mr Hen­schke said it was good to know the Health In­sur­ance Om­buds­man would have ex­tra re­sources to in­ves­ti­gate health funds, be­cause greater scru­tiny was crit­i­cal to en­sure cost re­duc­tions were passed on to con­sumers.

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