MEDIA RELEASE: Use super to cover healthcare costs or risk longer waiting times



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CEDA is today calling for three per cent of superannuation to be quarantined to meet healthcare costs, either by increasing the current super rate or using a portion already paid, as part of a suite of recommendations aimed at ensuring the long term sustainability of Australia's universal healthcare system.

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CEDA is today calling for three per cent of superannuation to be quarantined to meet healthcare costs, either by increasing the current super rate or using a portion already paid, as part of a suite of recommendations aimed at ensuring the long term sustainability of Australia's universal healthcare system.

Releasing CEDA's latest research Healthcare: Reform or ration, CEDA Chief Executive Professor the Hon Stephen Martin said Australia risked rationing of healthcare services, such as through longer waiting times for surgery, if it did not introduce reforms to contain the increasing cost of Australia's universal healthcare system.

"Australia's healthcare system won't be sustainable in its current form if the current rate of increasing utilisation, and therefore the cost to taxpayers, continues, so meaningful reform is the only option," he said.

"Delivering universal healthcare has been a great achievement in Australia.

"However, the combination of growing utilisation of services, combined with an ageing population, has the potential to result in spiralling healthcare costs for future generations and will also reduce government funding available for other key areas from education to infrastructure.

"Additionally CEDA is recommending designating a portion of tax revenue directly to healthcare spending to improve transparency of the cost of healthcare and to provide a cap on spending.

"This would mean that the community would get what it is willing to pay for and if additional spending was required there would be a direct link to increasing the amount of tax collected and healthcare premiums paid.

"At the moment most Australians only pay a small portion of the cost of medical services they access so most are unaware of the true cost of delivering those services.

"Another key area where improvement is needed is the pricing of generic drugs in Australia which could potentially save around a billion dollars a year in healthcare spending by Government.

"The use of generic drugs in for example the UK is significantly higher than Australia and in addition the price Australians pay for generic drugs is significantly higher.

"We need to be much quicker to take advantage of drug price reductions available when patents expire."

Professor Martin said the final area examined in the report was building on Australia's comparative advantage in the biomedicine industry.

"Australia has a world-class industry with over 900 biotechnology companies. Globally, the Australian biotech sector boasts the largest listed biotechnology sector as a proportion of GDP in the world," he said.

"To grow this industry it is vital that there is significantly stronger recognition and funding support for commercialisation of new drugs through the National Health and Medical Research Council primary research funding and increased mobility between academia and industry.

"In addition, there needs to be better engagement between science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) students with industry through, for example, internships and improved industry engagement with degree accreditation schemes to ensure that courses reflect skills demand in the industry."

Additional health events

In addition to releasing the policy perspective,  Healthcare: Reform or ration, in Melbourne on 17 April, CEDA will be holding events around the country as part of CEDA's 2013 policy focus on healthcare.

WA - 19 April, 2013

NSW - 30 April, 2013

QLD, 10 May, 2013