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Why the $7 co-payment is a bad idea

In last night’s budget, the Government announced a $7 co-payment for GP’s, as well as pathology, and a $5 co-contribution for medicines on the PBS. Now, $7 doesn’t seem like a lot, but the issue is, it’s not ever going to be $7.

Sometimes, a GP can’t get everything they need just by looking at you. They need to send you off to get some blood work done. So, what was a $7 visit, now becomes a $21 visit ($7 for the initial visit, $7 for the pathology, $7 for the results). If there is then medicine needed, that increases to a $26 visit.

For someone who is on the minimum wage ($16.32/hour), if they are working a full-time job (38.5 hours/week), they will earn about $30,000 a year after tax. That works out to be about $576/week. Take out $285 (median cost of rent in 2011¹)and you’re left with $291. Take out food, and depending on family size you could be down to $191. Then there’s petrol, which could easily cost you $90/week (remember, this is a person working full-time, so they’re driving to work regularly, paying rent which more than likely is a distance from their work, so I don’t think that this figure is that unreasonable), so that’s down to $100. We haven’t accounted for power, water, gas yet, but this site puts an average of about $53/week, so we’re now down to about $50 of disposable income.

$50 of disposable income. This is for someone who is working a full-time job.

$50 of disposable income. And we haven’t even accounted for providing anything for their kids.

$50 of disposable income. And the government is now wanting them to pay potentially $26 if they are sick.

Treasurer Joe Hockey said in his budget speech, “Budget speeches are often about numbers, and appropriately so, but the budget must always be about people.” (source)

Mr Hockey, you may say that your budget is about people, but the reality is that for a lot of people, the numbers just won’t add up.

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