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Catholic Health concerned about diversion of health money away from hospitals

Catholic Health Australia yesterday urged reform of the 30% private health insurance rebate in the interests of a fairer and more effective national hospital system.

The seven state and territory health ministers were meeting yesterday to discuss the effectiveness of the rebate, which was originally designed to shift demand from public to private hospitals by encouraging more Australians to take up private health insurance.

Catholic Health CEO Francis Sullivan (pictured) expressed concern that the money has been diverted away from hospitals into ancillary health products.

"The purpose of the rebate is .. not to bolster insurance cover for other than hospital care," he said. "The health ministers should rightly be concerned when around $643 million of the rebate is spent on other than direct hospital care costs."

"This may attract people to health funds, but does nothing to directly meet the real costs of essential hospital care," he said. "Where the rebate applies to ancillary only products there is absolutely no benefit to relieving the pressure on private hospital costs and public hospital waiting lists."

"If all health ministers, state and federal, are serious about improving access to essential hospital care and ensuring that hospital services remain viable, then it's time to redirect the $643 million to help meet the real costs of private hospital services.

"They can start by removing the rebate from other than hospital health insurance and discounting private patient hospital bills," said Mr Sullivan. "In this way, the public can be assured that tax payer money goes directly to alleviating public hospital pressures and patients receive immediate assistance with their health care costs."

Catholic Health Australia represents the largest single grouping of non government owned public and private hospitals in the country.

Catholic Health Australia

States call for health rebate to be slashed (The Australian)
Catholic Health Australia | - Canberra Update

5 Feb 2003