The federal government's plan to means test the private health insurance rebate could place further pressure on the Australian public health system, according to a leading health body.
The Royal Australian College of Surgeons (RACS) believes that changes to the rebate will lead to more people turning to public services – a system which "has already reached breaking point".
According to RACS vice president Keith Mutimer, surgeons have stated that a withdrawal from private health cover would deliver a devastating blow to public health care.
"It should be a matter of grave concern to Australians that the federal government itself concedes that there will be a flow of people back to the public system as a result of the proposed legislative changes," Mr Mutimer said (February 10).
"Irrespective of the number of privately insured patients who drop their cover, there will inevitably be some additional pressure on Australia's already over-stretched public hospitals, with adverse repercussions on the quality of patient care."
Mr Mutimer also stated that the findings of a recent Deloitte report indicate that means testing the rebate will have an effect on the demographics of the privately insured, with many young people likely to downgrade their policies due to rising costs.