Dump the co-payment: Senate committee

The Community Affairs References Committee said the government should review the impact of existing co-payments on individuals’ access to health services and outcomes, with particular attention to vulnerable groups.

The call to scrap the planned $7 co-payment for GP visits and diagnostic services and an additional $5 slug on prescription medicines leads the list of recommendations in the committee’s report on out-of-pocket costs in Australian healthcare.

“The committee received evidence that existing out-of-pocket health expenses create an environment where individuals already defer medical treatment or filling prescriptions because of financial reasons,” the report said.

“It is of concern to the committee that out-of-pocket expenses impact so significantly on the most disadvantaged in the community.”

Of particular note, it said, individuals appeared to be incurring significant costs for healthcare where