Private Healthcare Australia says the release of the intergenerational report (IGR) shows that 'business as usual' is not a sustainable approach to the future of healthcare.
The federal government has released the fifth iteration of the report first published to coincide with the 2002-03 Budget. The purpose of these reports is to provide an analysis of emerging issues for the federal government's fiscal outlook based on factors like the ageing population.
“According to the IGR, spending on health, per person, is projected to more than double in the next 40 years. Australia’s population will grow older and life expectancy will continue to increase, putting increased pressure on our health system," said CEO Dr Rachel David.
“As our population ages, there will be more pressure on our health system to deliver more medical services, putting an unprecedented burden on the Government’s budget and the working population. Health care costs will account for 26% of total Commonwealth expenditure by 2061.
“Supporting private health is the most effective way for the Government to provide health care, as it is the most efficient way to fund essential non-emergency surgery, inpatient mental health and other services in high demand. Increased life expectancy is a gift. A sustainable health system will enable people to enjoy their extra years and contribute to productivity.
“We need to act quickly to restore balance in our health system, encourage growth in private health insurance membership, not just to save taxpayers’ money, but to foster innovation and encourage wellness. Fast tracking PHI reforms and deregulation is key to making this happen."
The association said there needs to be a focus on reducing waste and related costs, including with the fast-tracking of reforms to the pricing of medical devices, and action to restore the Private Health Insurance Rebate to 30 per cent of premiums.
It called for a review of the regulation of private health insurance, including current settings for Lifetime Heath Cover and the Medicare Levy Surcharge, with the removal of "red tape".
It also called for more measures to encourage younger Australians into private health insurance and for funding to be directed to new models of care.
Dr David said these measures would go a long way towards ensuring the sustainability of Australia’s health system and help guarantee the affordability of top (Gold) hospital cover for the millions of Australians who rely on private insurancece for access to health services, quality of life and peace of mind.