Aussie seniors living in remote Western Australia are being forced to pay a whopping $280 more for their drivers licenses due to a lack of general practitioners in the region.
By law, seniors are required to undergo a medical check each year, to ensure they can safely drive. This service is usually bulk-billed for pensioners but with the lack of private GPs in the area, they are being forced to go to public hospitals and pay up to $280 for the test.
Speaking to the ABC, 81-year-old Beryl Ah Chee said she had no choice but to pay the fee for the 10 minute appointment as there is no private doctor in the small town in the Kimberley region.
“When I came out and was charged $280 I was quite upset,” she told the publication. “I said ‘what about Medicare?’ And they said: ‘no, you can’t claim it’.
This has become an increasingly worrying issue for pensioners who have limited access to transport in regional areas and are already tight with money.
As driving license renewal is not classed as essential medical care, it is unfortunately not covered by Medicare at a hospital, making the situation all that more difficult for pensioners who are struggling to get by.
Liberal MLC Ken Baston told the ABC something needs to be done to ensure these people can stay on the roads without paying the hefty fee.
“We need to seek a more equitable cost and I’d like to see it brought back down to a more level playing field to stop people in regional areas getting disadvantaged,” the publication reports he said.
Sadly, many pensioners find it difficult to survive on allowances, and are often strapped for cash after retiring.
Back in March, there was a small increase in age pension payments, however, this wasn’t much of a help for some people who struggle to balance their finances.
Payment rates for pensions and allowances are adjusted twice a year. While the latest saw small increases for singles and couples, around 4.7 million pension and allowance recipients saw a small increase to their welfare payments too.
Anyone on Newstart, Widow Allowance, Partner Allowance or Sickness Allowance was awarded an increase of $7.00 a fortnight to $554.60, while members of a couple saw payments go up by $6.30 a fortnight to $503.40.