THE cost of private health insurance is jacking up again, but a trip to the chemist will be cheaper for patients with high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, cancer, arthritis or asthma.
Insurance premiums rose by close to four per cent on Sunday, which will result in Perth residents paying $200 a year more for their cover.
Health Minister Greg Hunt insists the 3.95 per cent premium rise is the lowest government approved hike since 2001.
Social Services Minister Dan Tehan said that the Liberal Party wanted to “keep driving the cost down for private health insurance”.
“This is the lowest increase in private health premiums in 17 years. Under Labor we never saw health insurance premiums rising by this low amount,” he said.
Mr Tehan would not be swayed by Labor’s plan to cap private health insurance.
“You’ll have a two per cent increase but then in years two, three and four, you will see eight, 10, 12 per cent increases,” he said.
” We don’t think that helps families plan their budgets. We want to keep the private health insurance premiums down low, but in a sustainable way.”
But federal Labor has seized on the hike as proof its rate cap and Productivity Commission review of the sector is necessary.
“Today’s private health insurance increase sees Australians paying $1 billion more for the same private health insurance product,” Shadow health minister Catherine King told reporters.
“That’s $1 billion coming out of the pockets of Australians and going into the pockets of private health insurers.”
But the new medicines now listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme has garnered support.
“Australians with conditions including high blood pressure, depression, digestive disorders and certain types of cancer will now pay less for their medicines, every time they visit the pharmacy,” Mr Hunt said.
Mr Tehan said there would be 300 medicines now, up to 40 per cent cheaper.
Among the savings:
- 620,000 patients taking esomeprazole for digestive disorders will be $50 each year better off.
- Nearly 80,000 patients taking olmesartan for high blood pressure will be $54 each year better off.
- Some of the cancer drugs – which are used to treat lymphoma, lung cancer and non-melanoma skin cancer – will drop in cost from over $60,000 to $6.40 for concession card holders and $39.50 for others.
The chance of night-time hypoglycaemia will be reduced for 178,000 people living with diabetes through a new drug called Toujeo – a longer lasting form of insulin.
In Australia about 280 people develop diabetes each day.
Without subsidised access, patients would pay around $1820 each year for the drug.
Trexject will be available to treat rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis, coming down in price from around $1093 a year.
The HIV prevention drug pre-exposure prophylaxis – or PrEP – is also being listed.
The full Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme list is available here.