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Increasing medical costs will force Newstart recipients into impossible choices

Media Release
Rachel Siewert 29 Apr 2013


The Australian Greens said today that increasing out of pocket medical expenses will be forcing people on Newstart to go without essential health care, dental care and medicines because they can’t afford them.

“The Consumers Health Forum has found that Australians are paying an average of $1075 per year in out of pocket medical expenses. There is just no way a person on Newstart can pay this when they’re living more than $130 per week below the poverty line,” Senator Siewert said today.

“We know from ACOSS’s 2012 report ‘Who is missing out? Material deprivation and income support payments’ that 25% of people on Newstart are unable to buy prescribed medicines and 44% don’t have access to dental treatment when needed.

“With the rate of Newstart so low, if you get sick you’re being forced to choose between missing out on health care or skipping a rent or bill payment. Maybe you’ll cut down on food for the week or hold off buying new shoes for the kids.

“How are you supposed to turn up at job interviews looking happy and feeling confident under these circumstances? How are single parents supposed to provide for their kids?

“Each day on Newstart is a series of these grinding decisions, and the Greens are the only party not prepared to sit by while things get worse,” Senator Siewert concluded

“Australian Greens health spokesperson Senator Richard Di Natale said that “government needs to ensure our health system is equitable and affordable, that nobody is turned away because of their finances. Bringing dental into Medicare would be a good start to reversing this trend towards higher costs.”


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