The government will actively seek to address issues surrounding any Medicare reform, after several of the proposed changes have been brought into question.
With doctors in particular reacting with disdain, certain topics will be in focus when the Department of Health discusses the ongoing issues later this month.
Newly appointed Health Minister Sussan Ley has released a statement in which she describes her action plan and stance on the wider importance of Medicare.
"I will be undertaking wide ranging consultation on the ground with doctors and the community across the country in order to come up with sensible options to deliver appropriate Medicare reforms," Minister Ley said.
Furthermore, the new health minister went on to outline what will become the cornerstones of health policy for the coming meetings, as well as any future reforms, they are:
- Medicare must be viewed and subsequently protected in the long term.
- Bulk billing must remain as is for particularly vulnerable and concessional patients.
- High-quality care for all Australians must remain the priority.
- A modest co-payment must be inserted into the health system for those who have the capacity to afford it.
It is likely to be the latter of those points that proves the hardest to garner positive opinion on, but the government continues to claim that something must be done to combat any losses in the healthcare sector in efforts to rebalance the budget.
"In the last decade, spending on Medicare has more than doubled from $8 billion in 2004 to $20 billion today, yet we raise only $10 billion from the Medicare levy. Spending is projected to climb to $34 billion in the next decade to 2024," Minister Ley explained.
The issues surrounding the Medicare reform look set to rumble on, particularly as Prime Minster Tony Abbott has openly hit back at the most vocal parties that have criticised the proposed changes.
As mentioned, pressure from doctors has been overwhelming, with Mr Abbott stating that there is little alternative for the government.
"Price signals in our health system are an economic reform. We are serious about economic reform [and] budget responsibility. If [the critics] don't like what this government is doing, tell us what [the] alternative is," he said in an interview with 3AW radio as reported by Sky News Australia.
That statement will hardly prove comforting for those who are continually taking issue with the proposed reform, and the dissenting voices are unlikely to get any quieter when the changes become official later in January.
Ongoing issues with Medicare make it a better time than ever to consider private health insurance. Finding the right policy and knowing that there is treatment available to you away from the public system can offer added peace of mind.
To discuss your health insurance requirements with impartial experts, give HICA a call on 1300 44 22 01.