When we allow the government to start dismantling Medicare, let us not forget one very important fact.
Medicare is the Commonwealth funded health insurance scheme that provides free or subsidised health care services to the Australian population.
Public insurance, if you like. We pay an insurance premium, the Medicare Levy. When we go to the doctor those of us not bulk-billed (e.g. we do not have a Health Care Card) pay the equivalent of an “excess”, but it is not a fixed excess because it depends on the charge. With health insurance hospital cover, our excess is a fixed amount, just as with our car insurance. When we take out car insurance, we know we have to plan for that excess if we have an at-fault accident.
Our health is a little different. Yes, I can plan for a $500 hospital admission excess, but our health is not predictable. Neither are car accidents, but accidents are more preventable (that’s why they are called accidents) than health issues. Health insurance usually limits the number of times you have to pay the excess in any given calendar year.
The small (and sometimes not so small) amounts you pay when seeing doctors or having tests are your insurance excess: unplanned, not quantifiable for planning purposes, simply money you should have in case.
With university fee deregulation in the pipeline, in the not too distant future it will likely cost $400,000 to obtain a medical degree. The myth that all doctors become rich from the profession is dealt with by Dr Jennifer Sterrett in the Sydney Morning Herald.
GPs are the frontline troops in our health system. And, despite a common public perception, they are hardly well-remunerated for their years of training and responsibilities in overseeing the health of our citizens. Additionally they are small businesses with all of the pressures which that involves.
If it costs so much to become a doctor, yet patients can’t pay them, exactly how does that work in any sort of economic sense? If only rich kids can become doctors because Mummy and Daddy can afford the tuition, there goes our chances of having the best and brightest minds going through medical school. Who wants to start their working life with a debt of $400,000?
This is not just OUR insurance the government is playing with, it is the future of medicine in this country. Are you going to let it happen? Unlike our car insurance or house insurance, we don’t have the option of moving to another insurer. The Commonwealth is it.
Doctors are planning demonstrations against the changes. Support them, because they are protecting our health system. It is OUR insurance. Don’t forget that. Not for one minute.
Owler said the changes would vastly reduce the level of bulk billing and force doctors to charge patients a co-payment of at least $20 or $25 a visit, or in some areas to shut their practices because they would no longer be viable.
If we allow a Liberal Government to dismantle Medicare, will a Labor Government restore it? Better to save it and not take the risk.
How many people will revert to self-diagnosis with Dr Google and buy drugs on-line? There are so many social risks I haven’t touched on.
We need to rally the troops before it is too late.
Read the transcript of the President of the AMA on 666 Canberra.
Re the last link below (In the Australia of the future, you will fly out to see a doctor): remember at least one health fund is ALREADY providing cover for Australians to go overseas for dental treatment. Reality. Now.
- You’ve been targeted: supporting the AMA and RACGP supporting us (personal illustration of reality)
- How Medicare Rebate cuts may impact the patient, other than cost (more general considerations)
- In the Australia of the future, you will fly out to see a doctor (just check it out)