Half of us can­not af­ford health in­sur­ance

Fraser Coast Chronicle - - GOOD MORNING FRASER COAST - SHERELE MOODY Sherele.Moody@fraser­coastchron­i­cle.com.au

AL­MOST half of Fraser Coast lo­cals do not have health in­sur­ance.

Aus­tralian In­sti­tute of Health and Wel­fare data shows our re­gion has one of the low­est up­takes of health in­sur­ance in the coun­try, with just 44,422 – 52.1 per cent – in­sured.

Pri­vate Health­care Aus­tralia CEO Dr Rachel David said a lack of pri­vate med­i­cal providers in re­gional ar­eas and the cost of in­sur­ance were be­hind the low take-up of health in­sur­ance.

“Most peo­ple take out health in­sur­ance be­cause they want ac­cess to surgery on time, ac­cess to men­tal health ser­vices and to sub­sidised den­tal care,” she said.

“Wages haven’t re­ally risen since 2009 but health in­fla­tion – that is the cost of meet­ing claims or ser­vices – has been ris­ing about 5–6 per cent a year.”

Queensland Coun­cil of So­cial Ser­vices CEO Mark Hen­ley said most Aus­tralians could not af­ford health in­sur­ance.

“Re­search shows about 63 per cent of fam­i­lies ex­pe­ri­enced fi­nan­cial dif­fi­culty in the past 12 months,” Mr Hen­ley said.

“Peo­ple across the state are hav­ing to make com­pro­mis­ing de­ci­sions on pay­ing their power bills, rent or to put food on their ta­ble.

“They are strug­gling just to pay for the es­sen­tials and health in­sur­ance is not con­sid­ered by these peo­ple as an es­sen­tial.”

The Fed­eral Govern­ment ex­pects to roll out leg­is­la­tion al­low­ing pol­i­cy­hold­ers to claim travel and ac­com­mo­da­tion re­lated to hos­pi­tal­i­sa­tion.

“Our pri­vate health in­sur­ance re­forms mean poli­cies will be sim­pli­fied and more eas­ily un­der­stood so con­sumers get a clear pic­ture on what is in­cluded in their pol­icy,” a spokesman for Health Min­is­ter Greg Hunt said.

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