Pensioners want GP co-payment scrapped for everyone

“While CPSA is heartened that the Government is beginning to look at exemptions for the GP co-payment[1] the plan needs to be scrapped in its entirety,” said CPSA Manager, Research and Advocacy, Amelia Christie.

“There are plenty of people who may not qualify for a pension but whose health will be impacted if they can’t afford the co-payment. People on Newstart (particularly those under 30 who are set to miss out on income support for 6 months), and victims of domestic violence spring to mind.

“For many a fee of $7 will prevent them from seeking medical advice when required. The suggestion that a co-contribution payment will discourage people from making “unnecessary” visits to their GP is appalling. GPs are the gateway to other health services and it is essential that people are able to get advice and care when they need it.

“CPSA does not want to see a situation where a two-tiered Medicare system is created, to the detriment of the health outcomes of low income people.

“CPSA does not want to see pensioners pitted against others in relation to Medicare. Australia’s universal healthcare system should remain just that: universal.

“CPSA is disheartened that the argument of sustainability of Medicare is being used in the co-payment debate. No income raised by the co-payment is set to go into the Medicare system. If the Government is worried about sustainability they should look at increasing the Medicare levy, rather than charging people for vital health services. 

“Despite the current cap of ten visits for pensioners proposed, a recent study has found that an Age Pensioner couple will end up paying $199 more annually than they currently do due to the co-payment and the increase to PBS medications.[2] A retiree couple, not on a pension, is set to pay $244 per year more than they pay now. These are costs that many will not be able to absorb without hardship.

“CPSA calls on Australian Senators to block the dismantling of universal healthcare for all. Bulk billing is crucial to ensuring that everyone is able to access a doctor when they need it,” said Ms Christie.

Media Contact: Amelia Christie, Manager, Research and Advocacy
Mobile: 0410 612 182


[1] ABC Radio National PM Program, Dutton has costed exempting pensioners from $7 GP co-payment, suggest key senators willing to negotiate, 12 August 2014,  http://www.abc.net.au/pm/content/2014/s4065841.htm

[2] University of Sydney, Estimated impact of proposed GP, pathology and impaging co-payments for Medicare services, and the increased PBS threshold, July 2014, http://sydney.edu.au/medicine/fmrc/beach/bytes/BEACH-Byte-2014-003.pdf