Don t tax the sick, urge health groups

Health groups are urging the Federal Government against making patients pay more from their own pocket for medical care, warning it could place hospital emergency departments under even more stress.

Amid warnings from Health Minister Peter Dutton that Medicare is unsustainable, doctors said Australians already faced some of the highest out-of-pocket costs in the world.

Mr Dutton has flagged a "national conversation" on health spending, which could include the introduction of $6 co-payments for visits to the GP and other medical services such as pathologists. The door could also open to removing a ban on health funds paying for GP check-ups.

Mr Dutton said yesterday he was waiting for the Commission of Audit to hand its report to the Government but he wanted to strengthen Medicare.

When asked if the Government was considering a co-payment for GP visits, Prime Minister Tony Abbott pointedly did not rule it out.

The Consumers Health Forum said while Medicare needed a revamp to be made more cost effective, the Government should not "tax the sick".

The West Australian

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