New South Wales health minister Brad Hazzard has called for reform that would compel all tourists to Australia to take out some form of health insurance.
According to News Corp this morning, Mr Hazzard has written to federal health minister Greg Hunt and his state and territory counterparts proposing health insurance be mandatory for visitors to Australia on temporary visas, including tourists.
According to the reports, Mr Hazzard has claimed medical costs incurred by tourists ineligible for Medicare cost the state $30 million per year, with 16,000 hospitalisations at a cost of $100 million. Only around $70 million is recouped through the patient or their insurer.
The reports identify one case of an uninsured patient from China who incurred a bill of $248,000 as a result of a brain haemorrhage and a two-month stay in a hospital.
Mr Hazzard is reported to have told counterparts that, while no patient will ever be turned away, the state's taxpayers should not be left to carry the cost of unpaid bills.
He is pushing for health insurance to be a mandatory requirement and a condition of a visa.