The federal government is moving ahead with the introduction of Medicare Advantage plans, which will allow people to purchase their own private health insurance, with the aim of helping them afford their care.
The changes will also allow Australians with health problems to buy private insurance, as they are already eligible for government subsidies.
But critics say the plan is an inadequate way to reduce health care costs and is unlikely to do much to address Australia’s chronic underfunding of health services.
“There are more pressing issues than health care.
The primary concern for people is their personal financial well-being, and we need to be spending more on health,” Senator Nick Xenophon said.
Health Minister Peter Dutton said the changes would allow Australians to access Medicare Advantage, but did not give details on the price, the timeframe or how much the government would spend on it.
He said the Government would spend $100 million over the next three years on Medicare Advantage.
Senator Xenophon has also written to Health Minister Peter Dunne and Senator Nick McKim, who chairs the Senate health committee, to raise concerns about the plan.
In response to questions from ABC’s Lateline program, Mr Dutton did not provide details of how much of the money would go towards Medicare Advantage but said it would be “generally similar” to the government’s previous plan.
“It’s about how much money the Government will spend on a plan,” he said.
“The Government has already indicated that it will spend $30 million in the first year and then about $10 million per year for the next five years.”
That is not enough to ensure that people have affordable, quality, quality health care.
“Senator Xenomos has also been pressing the Federal Government to increase funding for community health clinics.
Earlier this year, the Government announced it was phasing in a $1 billion increase in community health funding, but he has also questioned whether the increase would be sufficient to address the country’s health challenges.”
If the Government doesn’t do the right thing, I think we’ll see the number of community health centres collapse in Australia,” he told Lateline.
Mr Dutton’s comments came after the government announced a new Medicare Advantage health plan, which would allow people over 65 to buy a plan.
However, Health Minister Ian Macfarlane said there was “no guarantee” the plan would work for everyone, and he said the plan was not designed for people over the age of 65.
More: “It will provide coverage to people over 85, but there is no guarantee that it’s going to work for everybody,” he added.
This is a breaking news story and will be updated.