Press Conference - Sydney
Tuesday, 30 January 2018
Topics: Bill Shorten’s plan to hurt 13 million Australians with private health insurance
Today, Bill Shorten was given two opportunities to rule out slashing the Private Health Insurance Rebate away from pensioners, away from young families, away from lower income earners.
Twice, Mr Shorten refused to rule out slashing or abolishing the Private Health Insurance Rebate.
This rebate provides $6.4 billion to families and pensioners, to lower income earners. It’s means-tested, it’s for those who otherwise would not be able to afford private health insurance.
On the very day that Mr Shorten declared that he supported reducing pressures on cost of living, he announced a policy to increase pressure on cost of living.
He announced a policy which would drive up the cost of private health insurance, which would put it beyond the reach of so many pensioners, so many families.
A young family with a child, saving, working, to ensure that they have the funds to give their family peace of mind, to give their family coverage. This will now in many cases be beyond them if the Shorten policy to slash the rebate proceeds.
There are 13 million Australians who have private health insurance, who value their private health insurance in terms of the coverage, in terms of the services, and in terms of the peace of mind that it provides them.
It’s a fundamental part of the Australian health system and the Australian model. What Mr Shorten has announced today is a plan to dismantle private health insurance and to drive up that cost for pensioners, for seniors, for families, and for young people.
But this comes on top of Labor’s existing policy, which is to take away and abolish basic coverage or lower cost private health packages. And what would that do?
We know from the Deloitte modelling that that would have alone a 16 per cent increase in the cost of lower basic premiums.
So in other words, Labor would immediately, just on their existing policy, drive up the cost of private health insurance by up to 16 per cent.
But talking with Private Healthcare Australia, they made it absolutely clear that with 300,000 Australian pensioners on private health insurance, when you put the two elements of slashing the Private Health Insurance Rebate and a 16 per cent increase in the cost of basic policies together, in some cases pensioners would face a 50 per cent slug in their private health insurance.
That’s unacceptable, it’s unsustainable. It would put private health beyond the reach of pensioners and it would have a devastating impact on the Australian health system, driving up public waiting lists as people were no longer able to afford private health insurance and no longer able to afford to be part of the private hospital system.
By contrast, through very significant reforms, we have put in place the changes which have delivered better mental health coverage, the end of waiting times for upgrades, better access for people in the bush, discounts for young Australians of up to 10 per cent, which would last through until after 40 years of age, and a $1.1 billion reduction in costs within the private health sector, which has allowed us to help deliver the lowest change in premiums in 17 years.
The lowest change in premium in 17 years.
So in the end, we are committed to private health because it gives people choice, it improves the quality of the system, and it ensures that we have a sustainable Australian system.
Labor hates private health insurance and they want to drive up the cost and destroy the system. And today Mr Shorten confirmed that, when given the chance, he repeatedly refused to rule out slashing the Private Health Insurance Rebate.
Thank you very much.