No good news for those with large health bills

Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Commonwealth Government’s plans to scrap the net medical expenses tax offset (NMETO) is a short-sighted budgetary measure that will hit taxpayers with large health bills hard, says Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA) Chief Executive, Alison Verhoeven.

The Australian Healthcare & Hospitals Association represents Australia’s largest group of health care providers in public hospitals, community and primary health sectors and advocates for universal high quality healthcare to benefit the whole community.

“While the Government is seeking to portray the NMETO as a perk for the rich, its scrapping will have a significant effect on many Australians who struggle to pay medical expenses,” says Ms Verhoeven. 

The Government has suggested that the NMETO provides little assistance to those with limited tax liabilities. However there are many Australians on modest incomes who are not eligible for other support that helps manage medical expenses, such as a Health Care Card.  They will now be unable to claim tax offsets either.

“The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) reported that in May 2012 the median weekly total earnings across all employees was $963.  Over 350,000 people with equivalent annual taxable incomes below this level submitted NMETO claims in 2010-11 totalling over $200M.   Removing access to this tax offset will place a further stress on these households and further increase the significant out-of–pocket expenses incurred by Australians.”

“The growth in out-of-pocket expenses is a major issue for the Australian health system which requires a broad examination of cost drivers, healthcare funding and equity. It is not a problem that can be addressed by simple budgetary measures.”

Media inquiries:

Alison Verhoeven, Chief Executive, Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association 0403 282 501