Dr Feelgood – The threat to Medicare

Posted: January 22, 2014 in Media, Politics

Well I’m back from my break a little wiser, a lot broker and am now back in the business of belting out posts again.

Whilst I was offline I was not so isolated that I didn’t hear or see some of what was happening in this great country of ours.

I was bewildered, angered, and saddened by all of the talk about possible changes to Medicare under the Abbott government, but one thing I wasn’t was surprised.

This also happened to coincide with me catching some virus that knocked the wind right out of me. Seriously it felt like I was in a stare down with the Grim Reaper every day for over a week, but I’ll be buggered if I was going to blink

Medicare is just one of the great achievements put in place by the Labor Party and the thought of changes to the system that serves us well are of course making people worried.

Tony Abbott and the Coalition could easily stop all of this concern from the public by stating that there will be no changes to Medicare, however they have not done so which leads those of us with an IQ that is not measured in a single digit to believe changes are on the way.

image

If one casts their mind back a few months to the election campaign some may recall how Tony Abbott and other Coalition members told us that talk of changes to Medicare were Labor scare tactics and those who voiced their concerns were called desperate or irresponsible.

Those who are truly irresponsible are those in the right-wing media who are constantly making excuses for any changes that may be on the way as if trying to pave the way so the public won’t be as outraged as they should be.

Many have commented that they feel the Abbott government in true Liberal fashion will privatise Medicare.

Whether Medicare is privatised, whether we end up paying $6 to see a doctor, or whether some of the rebates and services covered change, one thing we are all realising quickly is that under a Coalition government we are all going to feel the sting from a cost of living increase in the one essential part of our lives we often take for granted, our health.

With decisions like this in the pipeline you have to wonder who writes these policies, insurance companies?

In NSW recently drastic changes had to be made to the Liberal Party State Executive after some bad press after a whistleblower emerged on who the Faceless men running the Liberal party really are. The Liberal State Executive is responsible for setting the policy platform for the Party in the state.

The bad press came about when the whistleblower exposed that over 60% of those on the Liberal State Executive were in fact lobbyists. Imagine that, political lobbyists actually determining policy. Democracy for sale.

Many of these lobbyists were lobbying for insurance companies, one of them even had his wife as Deputy Chief Of Staff to the disgraced Former NSW Finance Minister Greg Pearce.

Little wonder in NSW we have seen changes to Workers Compensation that will save insurance companies Billions and see those injured at work suffer not only physically but now financially also for the apparent crime of showing up to work to try and make an honest buck.  Not only that, there have been changes to fire levies on our home insurance premiums, and changes to the Green Slips for our car registration as well. All of these changes have benefited the insurance companies greatly.

Those who have seen their workers compensation slashed or coming to an end will now face the possibility of now facing extra costs for their work related injury due to Medicare changes, comforting indeed I bet.

Injured at work?

Injured at work?

Clearly any of the changes to Medicare being discussed will be enormous shot of adrenalin for the health insurance companies.

I wonder who has shares in these firms, given one of Abbotts first acts after taking office was to change the rules relating to MP’s and Ministers and their ability to hold and trade shares related to their portfolio, effectively allowing inside trading for his caucus.

Once upon a time an insurance salesperson was one of the most hated professions in the world, how things change.

Now we even see all the ads for Woollies selling insurance.

Maybe it’s the Government itself that has been privatized by the Liberals.

Cha Ching.

Wow, lets jump on the Liberal Insurance Gravy Train

Wow, lets jump on the Liberal Insurance Gravy Train

Anyway, one of the most ridiculous articles I read regarding possible changes to Medicare was in the Telegraph it probably comes as no surprise. The article was an opinion piece and it compared Medicare to an all you can eat buffet in a restaurant. The premise being that we are being greedy and using up valuable resources and costing the government a bundle when there is no need, but because there is no extra cost to us we will just keep going back and back and back and so on.

Now I may have been guilty of being a gluttonous animal once or twice at the odd buffet, ok maybe even three times, however you won’t see me loitering around the doctors hoping to get my temperature taken just because I won’t have to fork out cash for it.

I may live in a different world to some, but where I come from people go out for a meal for their enjoyment, whether it’s a buffet or not. A pleasant day or night out with family or friends over a nice meal, that kind of thing…

In my world people don’t invite their family and friends over to the medical centre or casualty ward of an overcrowded hospital to shoot the breeze for a pleasant evening or afternoon. Do you know why?

Because it is not a f***king pleasant experience is why.

Waiter, there's a syringe in my seafood

Waiter, there’s a syringe in my seafood

It is one of those things in life we dread, sitting on an uncomfortable chair waiting for 2 hours watching a soappie with no volume on a flickering TV in a hot waiting room full of bad smells, screaming kids, virus’s and despair.

That is if you have the luxury of getting ill or injuring yourself during medical centre opening hours. For those who don’t have that luxury you have the hospital emergency ward option. Add another three hours to the waiting time (on a quiet night), scrap the chair you may end up sitting on the floor, and the TV you may have to dislocate your neck to be able to see it clearly.

Then after all of that waiting and suffering, just as it’s your turn and some emergency patients will show up in an ambulances from a bad car smash, or maybe a shooting or stabbing victim. Upon seeing this you switch butt cheeks on the hard vinyl floor next to the septic looking stain and in an act of pure futility try and get comfortable for what will now be another hours wait.

This is not the kind of environment they seek to create at the restaurants I eat at.

Lining up at a Frankston Buffet for the soft serve ice cream

Lining up at a Frankston Buffet for the soft serve ice cream

I could be wrong but if it were to be a realistic comparison between a buffet and Medicare I’m sure if they told you at the buffet that before you could have a second helping you had to sit next to a smelly old man with bad cough while a crying kid kicks the back of your chair for two hours then people would suddenly take up dieting.

As for the access to specialists and special medical services which can be expensive, I can see why those who live on Fantasy Island might think people would be keen to use the while they can.

However those who are of the real world realise that to have one of these services or see a specialist you need a referral from a doctor.

This means the two-hour wait at the medical centre for many for a referral to another surgery, practitioner, or medical centre for another long wait in an overcrowded waiting room for an uncomfortable test. Before you finally leave you will then pay a ghastly bill.

The next day when you go to your local Medicare office to pick up your partial refund you will be dismayed to find that despite leaving early there is already a crowd in wait that would normally signify U2 tickets have just gone on sale. Your mood deteriorates further after you print out your ticket number A653 and you look up and see the two staff on duty are currently up to serving ticket A347.

Comparing all of this to a buffet is plain ridiculous.

Yes putting a charge on doctors visits will have a result, but probably not the desired one.

A poor anxious first time mother finds herself pondering the dilemma of whether to take her baby to the doctor or whether to hope her temperature drops on its own. She is flustered, the baby is only 3 weeks old, and her husband is now doing extra shifts to make ends meet as since he was re-hired as a casual he doesn’t have the same flexibility or benefits. A victim of the Coalitions work/life balance agenda.

Stuck between a rock and a hard place and knowing they need all their money to pay for the groceries that have skyrocketed in price since the Coalition decided rich ladies should still be paid an exorbitant amount of money after having children she crosses her fingers to save the $6.

When that 3 week old baby girl dies and leaves a young family utterly devastated I want to know who will be the one to front up and say that saving that $6 off the budget bottom line was worth the death of young Alicia, and the total destruction of her young parents lives.

Don’t think that this is a ridiculous scenario either, this will no doubt happen if we have to start paying for visits to the doctor. It is not a matter of if, only a matter of when.

Will it be Tony Abbott, or will it be Health Minister Peter Dutton?

Dutton’s first major decision since taking on the Ministry role was aptly to announce the go ahead for the Liberal Party policy makers the Insurance companies, to jack up their private health insurance rates by the highest amount in years.

This is just one of the many ways that the Coalition are helping with the cost of living, by adding over $2000 to the cost of insurance for many struggling families, changes to Medicare will be just icing on the cake. Dutton showing all the courage of a child scared of its own shadow chose to make this announcement just before Xmas when he no doubt thought nobody would notice or would get lost over Xmas before anyone had the chance to question him on it.

Peter Dutton brought an ogre along to his press conference to scare off his shadow

Peter Dutton brought an ogre along to his press conference to scare off his shadow

However it will probably end up being be some poor beaurocrat or lackey that gets thrown to the wolves by a gutless government.

We have a decent health care system in this country, it may not be as good as many other western countries like in the UK, France, or Norway but it is certainly better than the system in the US that has been resisting change for decades thanks to the conservative governments looking after the insurance and pharmaceutical giants who shell out Billions in political donations.

Yes it is a significant drain on the budget, but it is a vital service.

There are other drains on the budget that could be looked at for savings, such as MP’s rorting travel expenses, but calls for that have fallen on deaf ears, or maybe the continued cost of running an escalating military campaign against a few poor people in dodgy fishing trawlers. A military campaign that has now seen the Indonesian government ramp up their military campaign in order to stop ours.

At times like this we see the fundamental difference between a Liberal and a Labor government, it is in the way they view their duty.

A Liberal government sees itself as a merchant banker protecting the riches of itself and its major donors, elevated to government by wealthy backers who must be repaid at someone elses expense..

A Labor government sees itself as a service provider, granted government by the people and now must be serve in a way that benefits the majority of those people , not just those with the bigger bank accounts.

I hope people remember this next time they vote.

Like Wixxyleaks on Facebook here

Like Wixxyleaks on Facebook here

Comments
  1. M. R. says:

    Wixxy, there are an awful lot of things I hope they’ll remember. Too many to count, right now – and it gets more with each week that passes.
    But unhappily there are complete morons out there who have NO IDEA of what’s going down; but who are so allied with their party that they’ll vote for it come what may. If you’re a Liberal voter these days, nothing – like, nothing at all – is going to make you change your vote.

  2. Kevin Azo says:

    Welcome back. In this dark and miserable age, you provide a ray of hope.

    Date: Wed, 22 Jan 2014 02:50:44 +0000 To: azokevin@hotmail.com

  3. tullibardine says:

    Wixxy since the price hike in Health Insurance Schemes were announced the NIB chose a hike of around 9.2% !!! Now if you try to ditch them, what happens to your ‘waiting period’, so people just cop it sweet due to fear. Could this Insurance be exposed publicly for such a dreadful decision. The Govt I think said a hike of around 6% would be tolerated.

    Most have opted for around 4.9%. I think all Health Insurance Companies who chose to go above the recommended cap, need to be exposed. Also , most of the price rises go to cover the rent that these companies pay in big shopping centre profiles, and actually do not have anything to do with rising hospital costs. It is all a scam.All these companies could run their businesses via staff working from home, if they had the capacity via the NBN! And all rebates done electronically, no queues. This is how Medicare works now, no money is transacted over the counter. Labor introduced this and it works, most Drs now comply with the rebate being immediately available to the pt.

    Robina

  4. joy cooper says:

    Well said Wixxy, do hope you are now feeling much, much better. 🙂

    One thing many overlook is that only those with pension, benefit or health care cards or are children 16 years & younger, are entitled to be bulk-billed. That is if your GP does bulk-bill at all. We are lucky in that our medical centre does bulk-bill locals, but not visitors to our coastal town. Most other towns & city in our region (Northern Rivers) do not bulk-bill those who are entitled to be so. They have to pay. up-front, $55-$70 for a normal GP consultation then can only claim part of that fee back from Medicare. This is a huge impost of those on a limited income who require regular consults to monitor their medical conditions. My partner & I would not be able to afford to pay such fees & our health would suffer enormously with us, no doubt, ending up in hospital.

    Strangely, in these towns, ALL the GPs charge fees, not just some. Do I smell cartel or am I being paranoid?? (Have heard stories.) Most of these towns are fortunate to also have local hospitals whose EDs are used by those who cannot afford the GPs’ fees.

    Would these GPs add any $6 co-payment onto the $55-$70 already charged?

    OMG this inept, mean-spirited & mendacious Coalition government really sucks.

    • Ian says:

      Paranoid, I’m afraid Joy. Most GPs cannot run their business on the Government bulk-bill rate, so are forced to charge a co-payment anyway. The fact that they all made that decision at about the same time suggests it was an economic decision, not a political one.

    • Ian says:

      And yes, if the Government mandated a $6 co-payment, doctors would add that to their existing fees. Because presumably the Government would factor the $6 into the bulk-bill fee – that’s the only way they can get any savings out of the measure.

  5. MikeA says:

    Wixxy I disagree with your arguments regarding Medicare. I think too often sacred cows get quarantined in policy reviews requiring the rest to carry the whole of the changes being sought (another topic, but the welfare review leaving aged pension out will be bad for Newstart etc.) Actually some people (how many?) do attend doctors for unimportant medical issues, the doctor often being the only professional person available for discussion/advice and it is free. You can’t legitimately include the hospital emergency departments in your assessment of unwarranted treatment! The proposal for $6 co-payment should be considered along side the $20(?) out of pocket for non-bulk billed appointments.
    Back to welfare reform does anyone want to revisit the reason for excluding Million $ homes fro the aged pension asset test!

    • matt says:

      “Actually some people (how many?) do attend doctors for unimportant medical issues, the doctor often being the only professional person available for discussion/advice and it is free.”

      What are you on about? What free advice are people getting from doctors? Recipes? Home DIY? Sports results?

      Or could it be they go seeking medical advice? Of a physical or mental nature? Neither of which is abusing the system. If doctors are billing people for anything else, it is the doctors who is at fault, not the patients.

    • matt says:

      Add to that anyone with mental health issues that would present regularly at doctors for things you consider “unimportant” will likely be on low income or benefits and hence be exempt from the payment. There is no discouragement. It is a completely BS argument.

  6. Fed up says:

    Mr. Abbott, I believe said today, that is one wants to be seen as the goodie in the Syrian conflict, one puts down their arms.

    I so have trouble with that one., If you put down your arms, you immediately lose.

    Maybe it is I that has the problem./

    Nothing has changed while you were on holidays. Just got worse, and more unbelievable.

  7. Welcome back!

    The flagged re-introduction of the Hawke/Keating government Medicare co=payment may be silly but the alternative is Obamacare where we all have to buy insurance and the government picking up the difference. Government health spending at a federal level has ballooned over the past decade and if that growth isn’t checked or at the least talked about the result may be we end up with an untameable beast destroying any chance of us ever achieving something close to fiscal balance.

    Think whatever you will about the Abbott government but this is an issue a lot of people saw coming and chose to ignore.

  8. BSA Bob says:

    Welcome back after your hols.
    Health is one of life’s great levellers & it seems to me that free access to health care should be a given, funded from government coffers.
    Stories of little old ladies or what have you spending a few convivial hours chatting to their doctor while someone’s having a coronary outside are just an example of one of this lot’s great debating cons; pick an extreme example, no matter how rare or even theoretical & base your entire campaign on that.

  9. Nifty_26 says:

    Off subject but here is the latest round of bashing. We already new and now it is confirmed who is one of the owners of this government and it not the populace

    “[Rinehart’s] biggest whinge to me was, she said, ‘Ken, you blokes in Canberra have got to stop the welfare system,” Mr O’Dowd told the community meeting.

    “There is [sic] 60 per cent of Australians on some sort of welfare payment. [Rinehart] said, ‘They can’t be all that badly off’.”

    Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/government-mp-says-people-on-dole-dont-care-about-the-community-just-themselves-20140123-31ajk.html#ixzz2rBtNbciC

    About time the public put pressure on these people, we cannot rely on MSM, we have to rely on us getting together and ram home some home truths about these bastards.

  10. Welfare is one thing, but having most households in Australia receiving some form of assistance is really pushing the limits and intentions of the idea.

    800,000+ working age adults on DSP, plus the unemployed, plus those receiving payments for their kids, plus additional payments linked to a myriad of government programs. Welfare is the $130,000,000,000 elephant in the room that no-one wants to poke. Wouldn’t it make more sense to reform the welfare system and move those savings to Medicare? If we keep increasing the welfare share of our budgets like it grew in the last decade we are in for a whole world of hurt when the baby-boomers decide to retire en-masse over the coming decade or so.

    • matt says:

      “Welfare is the $130,000,000,000 elephant in the room that no-one wants to poke.”

      Actually, thats about what people pay our banks in interest rates every year for home loans, with what, over 2 trillion in debts? Hows that for an elephant nobody will touch? Boomers retiring en masse means more demand for able workers. Bad for boomers, the costs of all the services they rely on will go up.

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