private healPrivate health rebate warning

AUSTRALIAS major economists are upgrading their forecasts for the surging Australian dollar, with St George tipping it to hit $US1.15.

private healPrivate health rebate warning,The head of leading market research company Ipsprivate healthos Australia told the National Press Club yesterday that analyses of surveys conducted by the company had shown "many low-, middle- and even some relatively high-income earners could not afford their current private health insurance if the rebate they get was removed".

"Not many higher-income people have said they will drop private health insurance (if the means test comes in), because most of them realise they are locked in by the tax — they will pay a higher Medicare levy surcharge if they drop it," Mr Quint said.

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UP to 25 per cent of higher-income earners would downgrade their cover if the federal government succeeds in means-testing the $4 billion private health insurance rebate — challenging federal government claims that the move would not harm funds financially.

Ipsos Australia executive director Tony Quint told The Australian most of those earning enough to be affected by the proposed means test, which would cut in progressively for singles earning more than $75,000 and for couples earning more than $120,000, had indicated they were unlikely to drop their cover altogether, to avoid paying more tax. But this concealed a widespread intention among individuals to limit the hit to their disposable incomes, by switching to cheaper health insurance policies.

"But one in four of the people in the affected income groups that would be captured by the propprivate healPrivate health rebate warningosed means test . . . would downgrade their level of cover."

Mr Quint said this was likely to see more people taking out policies with higher excess payments, which in turn would probably lead to more people choosing treatment in public rather than private hospitals.

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