Coalition won't oppose all Labor private health changes

Minister for Health Tanya Plibersek.
Minister for Health Tanya Plibersek. Chris Ison

THE Coalition has not opposed changes to private health insurance rebates which will see Australians pay more for their insurance, while saving the Federal Government more than $699 million.

In a joint party room meeting in Canberra on Tuesday, Coalition MPs debated whether they should not oppose two bills changing private health insurance.

During the meeting, eight Coalition MPs, leader Tony Abbott and health spokesman Peter Dutton debated whether the budget savings outweighed the usual conservative support for PHI.

A final decision was reached that the Opposition would allow passage of one of two bills, effectively supporting some of the government's savings measures.

The bills will remove the lifetime health cover for those with insurance and change the indexation of PHI rebates, adding to the personal cost.

Of the two bills, the removal of lifetime health cover will save the government $386 million over four years, while the rebate calculation changes will save more than $699 million over four years.

During the parliamentary debate on the bills, rising Liberal MP Josh Frydenberg said more than 12 million Australians had taken out private health cover.

He said the "Labor measure" would increase the cost of living for Australians, including increased burdens on public hospitals.

In her second reading speech on one of the two bills, Health Minister Tanya Plibersek said the sought to make the government's rebate expenditure sustainable.

"This bill will create, for the purposes of the rebate, a base premium for each individual health insurance policy which will be indexed annually by the lesser of the consumer price index or the actual increase in premiums imposed by insurers," she said.

"This will then be used to determine an individual's private health insurance rebate."

Ms Plibersek said while the calculation of the rebate would remain the same, the level of the calculation would change, due to changes in the way the "base premium" is calculated.

Topics:  australian government coalition insurance private health

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