Captain Wooldridge Maintains Course As Health Fund Titanic Takes Water – 30 November 1998
“The Coalition’s rescue ship HMAS 30% Rebate will not save the HMAS Health Fund Titanic unless the Titanic’s Captain Wooldridge is given orders to change course” spokesman for the Australian Doctors’ Fund, Mr Stephen Milgate, said in Sydney today.
“We predicted that the course plotted for private health insurance by the introduction of the Lawrence contracts legislation would end in disaster. So far, sadly, we have been proven correct” Mr Milgate said.
“The Lawrence contracts legislation introduced the concept of the ‘big ugly buyer’ health fund beating up on all the other players in the health industry to solve the problem of declining private health fund membership. But what has happened?”
“We were all told that ‘no-gaps’ benefits obtained through contracting would attract new passengers to the health funds. They have not. Instead the costs created by offering extra benefits have driven people away particularly the young and healthy. Others are hanging on by the skin of their teeth by electing to pay higher and higher front-end deductibles to the health funds when they have a claim ($1,000 is not uncommon) to offset the premium hikes created by the Lawrence legislation.”
“Health fund premium hikes and the availability of a perceived free Medicare is the root cause for the deterioration in private health insurance participation rates. Both must be fixed simultaneously if the government is serious about genuine reform” Mr Milgate said.
“Meanwhile within swimming distance of the Titanic is the rusty but “cost free” HMAS Public Hospital Medicare. This ship set sail with the promise that the all passengers would be given a first class cabin with someone else paying the fare. However for some time now this overcrowded vessel has been slowing down under the weight of non-fee paying passengers. Many say it is also in danger of sinking.”
“The strange fact is that passengers on both the HMAS Health Fund Titanic and HMAS Public Hospital Medicare are now fully aware of the reality that confronts them. Escalating private health insurance premiums or the real possibility of long queues for surgery in a public hospital. There is no joy on either ship.”
“The Howard government’s rescue ship should send out an urgent uncoded message:
To the HMAS Health Fund Titanic:
CHANGE COURSE TO AFFORDABLE NO-FRILLS HEALTH COVER AND STOP PROMISING WHAT NONE OF US CAN AFFORD.
To HMAS Public Hospital Medicare:
CHANGE COURSE TO IMMEDIATE MEANS TEST FOR USE OF PUBLIC HOSPITALS AT LEAST, IN ORDER TO STAY AFLOAT.”