15 August 2016

The Turnbull Government’s Medicare freeze could be the final straw for many patients, with new research showing patients are already being forced to skip crucial medical treatment because of out of pocket costs.

A study by James Cook University and the NSW Bureau of Health Information Research has found many people with chronic health conditions are already being forced to forgo treatment because they cannot afford the costs of medications and appointments.

The study found almost half of patients with depression, anxiety and other mental health conditions stated that they skipped healthcare treatment because of the cost.

The study also found that more than one-third of people with asthma, emphysema and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) could not afford the treatment they needed.

Federal Member for Blair Shayne Neumann said these are deeply concerning findings.

“There findings indicate some patients are being forced to put their health at risk because they can’t afford treatment,” Mr Neumann said.

“Even more alarmingly is the Turnbull Government will make this even worse as its Medicare freeze and cuts to bulk billing for pathology and diagnostic imaging further drive up out of pocket costs.

“The Turnbull Liberal Government is simply making health care even more unaffordable for those residents in Ipswich and the Somerset Region who need it most.

“Just this week, I once again received a petition from Local GP’s signed by over two hundred and seventy of their patients whom are concerned about the increased cost to see a local doctor under the Liberal’s plans.”

Mr Neumann said this study is further evidence of the damage already being done by Liberal health policies, and the failure of Malcolm Turnbull to heed the message from Labor’s Medicare campaign.

Despite this, Malcolm Turnbull is committed to making health even more unaffordable.

The six year freeze on Medicare rebates will drive down bulk billing and drive up the cost of seeing a GP.

  • The cuts to Medicare rebates for pathology and diagnostic imaging will force cancer patients and others with serious health conditions to pay more for potentially lifesaving scans and tests.
  • The cost of prescriptions will be raised by up to $5 for essential medicines.

“Malcolm Turnbull’s cuts are already hitting the sickest, the poorest and those in rural areas the hardest.

“The Liberal’s Medicare Freeze, along with cuts to bulk billing and medicine price hikes will only worsen this trend and negatively impact the upon the health of the most vulnerable in our community.”

Mr Neumann said Labor will once again resist furiously any attempts by the Liberal’s to attack bulk billing, increase out of pocket costs and undermine the rights of all Australians to access decent, affordable health care.

“Labor created Medicare and Labor will always protect Medicare.”