The recent announcement that a $7 Medicare co-payment would be introduced for all GP visits, pathology tests and X-rays was not well received by the aged care industry, due to the financial strain that could possibly be placed on older Australians.
For a demographic already prone to difficulties with regards to living costs, further fees and co-payments could be difficult to deal with.
That's why leading aged care bodies Council on the Ageing (COTA) Australia and National Seniors spoke at a public hearing on 25 March to explain the consequences if plans for the co-payment are followed through. The two bodies explained that out-of-pocket medical costs were already high, and the implementation of further charges would be unreasonable.
"There was a lot of media speculation of MBS and PBS co-payments and we started to get a steady stream of people with concerns about what it would mean for them, how they were going to pay for them and on the quality of their life," said COTA policy manager Jo Root.
"When the budget was brought down that stream turned to a flood."
Ms Root explained that COTA received a number of calls following the co-payment announcement, largely from seniors who expressed their concerns about meeting healthcare costs.
"We think that any additional co-payment for GPs or for the PBS will just make their decision-making more difficult about whether they get a procedure or whether they don't," Ms Root said.
Other medical changes announced as part of the federal budget involved further increases to pharmaceutical co-payments.
Financial sustainability will need to remain a top priority for both elderly Australians and aged care providers, in order to ensure stability over the next few years.
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