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Catholic Health warns Howard on insurance

Catholic Health Australia (CHA) last night warned that the Prime Minister's strategy to revive health insurance "could come unstuck".

"The insurance cover crisis puts enormous pressure on the Government's private health strategy," said CHA executive director Francis Sullivan. "Doctors have made a compelling case to have their problems dealt with."

Australia's private hospitals have warned the government that they will bear the brunt of patient liability claims after a move by the states and territories move to protect doctors from spiralling medical negligence costs. The $4 billion-a-year private hospital industry warned last night that insurance premiums already had risen by as much as 700 per cent since September 11.

He continued: "If you include the private sector and nursing homes, you've got a problem three times the size of the one they've just attempted to solve."

The private health sector has warned that the insurance cover threat is so serious that the Prime Minister's $2.4 billion-a-year strategy to revive private health insurance could come unstuck, adding as much as $500 million to the commonwealth's health bill.

Mr Howard has pumped billions of dollars into private health insurance since 1996 in a bid to boost membership and take pressure off public hospitals. The 30% private health handout now accounts for $2.4 billion a year alone.
But Mr Howard warned that Australians were too willing to resort to legal action.

"You can't expect to sue at the drop of the hat and complain about public liability insurance premiums going up. I think the community has to rethink this," he said.

The Australian

The Australian (payment required)

24 Apr 2002