By Sue Dunlevy – News Corp Australia Network.
Cancer patients will have their out of pocket costs for life saving radiotherapy treble to up to $12,000 under a budget cut that reduces the amount they get from the Medicare Safety Net.
In last year’s budget the government capped the amount the safety net will pay patients at 150 per cent of the Medicare fee from January 2016 to save $267 million over five years.
“There was a furore over a $5 GP copayment but these patients are already contributing $2,000 to their treatment and now they will be slugged twice that,” said Melbourne radiation oncologist Dr Michael Guiney.
“Once you get over $4,000 in out of pockets that is the tipping point even for well heeled patients and we’ll see patients of lesser means having to access the public system.”
This will mean many hours of travel for rural patients to public hospitals that already have waiting lists of a month for access to radiotherapy.
The Extended Medicare Safety Net was set up by Tony Abbott when he was health minister in 2004 to cover 80 per cent of a patients out of pocket expenses when their doctors charged more than the Medicare fee.
Private patients undergoing a typical six to seven week course of radiation treatment currently have $12,000 in out of pocket expenses but $10,000 of this is covered by the Medicare Safety Net, Dr Guiney said…read more.