New submission put forward into National Health Amendment bill

September 22, 2014 | Aged Care Finance

The National Health Amendment bill has attracted attention recently for its proposed changes to pharmaceutical benefits. If put forward, the effects on the aged care industry and older Australians could be substantial.

That’s why the Council On The Ageing (COTA) has made a submission to the Senate inquiry in regards to the out of pocket health expenses. The various needs of elderly Australians were highlighted, such as the common requirement for multiple medications and frequent specialist visits.

“[They are more] likely to see a specialist and more likely to be an inpatient in a hospital than younger people. This increases the likelihood they will be using some medications, either long term for chronic conditions or to deal with short-term medical conditions,” the COTA press release stated.

“Most older people are on low or fixed incomes and have limited discretionary income, particularly if they are a single person and/or not a home owner,” the release explained.

The new co-payment increase is rising 13.3 per cent, a figure which could prove unmanageable for many with strict incomes and expenditures. In a past study the firm found that many older Australians were already unable to afford medications, even given the concessional rate.

“It is hard to see how many older people are going to be able to absorb such an increase without sacrificing something else.”

While measures among elderly Australians may have worked in the past (such as sharing medications and changing exactly when they’re taken), the higher cost could prove difficult to manage.

COTA has been proactive in many ageing developments over the recent months, launching campaigns and efforts to reduce negative financial impacts.

The organisation will likely continue to be a driving force for positive change within the aged care sector over the next few decades, as the ageing Australian population increasingly enters aged care facilities. These providers will need to consider the benefits of appropriate ACFI education in order to sustain funding.

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