Budget Blues

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Last night the Federal Treasurer Joe Hockey handed down the Coalition’s first budget in seven years and for those of us already in pain it looks like we are about to feel it that much more each time we go to the doctors, pay for a prescription or have an x-ray or blood test. Here’s the breakdown:

Let’s start with the bad news.

  • A $7 ‘patient contribution’ will be charged to patients each time they visit their GP. Concession card holders and children under the age of 16 will only have to pay the contribution fee for their first 10 visits each year. It will be up to the doctor whether or not they charge the patient the $7 fee, if the GP chooses not the charge, they won’t receive their $6.20 bulk-billing consultation fee from the Government.
  • The $7 ‘patient contribution’ fee will also apply to out of hospital imaging and pathology services.
  • From 1 July 2015 a $5 fee will be applied for each prescription you have filled. This fee will apply to any medication currently subsidised by the Government’s Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. For those who hold a concession card the fee will be $.80 cents per prescription. For example if you are currently taking the drug infliximab (Remicade) non-concession card holders will pay $41.90, concession card holders will pay $37.70 (instead of the current $36.90).
  • If you are on the Disability Support Pension (DSP) and under the age of 35 and first began receiving the pension between 2008 and 2011 you will be required to undergo stricter eligibility testing and may be required to join Work for the Dole, job search, education or workplace training schemes.

There is some good news:

  • A Medical Research Future Fund in excess of $20 billion dollars will be created from the Government’s savings. The headlines are screaming that this may lead to an Australian being the one to cure Cancer, Alzheimer’s or heart disease. Seeing as how Arthritis affects millions of Australians I am hoping that some of the $20 billion dollars (that we tax paying arthritic Australians are contributing the fund) will also be used to fund research into curing arthritis too!

I’m all for getting the budget back to surplus but I don’t believe that politicians fully appreciate how much a disability eats away at our budgets when you factor in:

  • Specialists
  • Time off work due to illness (or trips to specialists – they don’t work weekends!)
  • Cost of medication (generally required so that we can go to work)
  • Soon to be cost of testing – to ensure that the medications are not causing more problems, and that the disease is under control
  • Cost of other treatments such as physiotherapy, acupuncture, chiropractor, bowen therapy or massage (if that’s what it takes to help you feel better) – these practitioners also generally need to be seen during the working week as most don’t work weekends!

I’m keen to know your thoughts on this issue and how this budget will affect you. Please feel free to contact me at ArthriticEntrepreneur@gmail.com

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