First cuts to Medicare under new Government: And they want your feedback 655



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The new Turnbull Government has taken it’s first shot at Medicare, and will today announce a review of the 5700 services doctors can charge taxpayers with.  It is being sold as a clean up and modernisation of Medicare, dumping ‘outdated and unnecessary’ procedures.  And the Government says it wants your feedback, opening the subject of what should be cut up for public consultation.  Do you think it’s about time we reviewed the things Medicare covers and reduced them?

The items that have been released to the media as examples of what is going to be cut include things like knee arthroscopy, ­imaging for lower back pain and tonsillectomies.  And two that are significant to seniors is the potential scrapping of subsidised bone density tests and the appraisal of colonoscopies for who they benefit.

According to the Australian, there is currently no limits to the number of bone density tests over-70s can ask for yet international evidence suggests there is limited benefit of constant testing on the elderly.

And, there is fears some Australians are undergoing excessive colonoscopies, while other groups of patients aren’t getting enough colonoscopies.

The Turnbull Government is making clear today that a clean up of Medicare is coming and that they will start by targeting these items and seeking public feedback on how people want Medicare to run.

“We’ve seen growth in Medicare claims triple that of growth in new patients over the past decade to one million (claims) per day, and there’s an increasing consensus between patients and health professionals that not every one of these is best practice, let alone necessary,’’ Ms Ley said.

“Every dollar we put into an unnecessary service with questionable benefits for patients is a dollar we could be putting into new treatments that will improve or save people’s lives.”


Items that the Government wants scrapped: 

Bone mineral density testing (usually done on people over 70 years)

Colonoscopy   (With concerns some people are getting too many and others too few)

Knee arthroscope

Imaging for clearer understanding of lower back pain



Have you ever had one of these tests or procedures?  Do you think this is a beneficial process to “clean up Medicare”?

Rebecca Wilson

Rebecca Wilson is the founder and publisher of Starts at Sixty. The daughter of two baby boomers, she has built the online community for over 60s by listening carefully to the issues and seeking out answers, insights and information for over 60s throughout Australia. Rebecca is an experienced marketer, a trained journalist and has a degree in politics. A mother of 3, she passionately facilitates and leads our over 60s community, bringing the community opinions, needs and interests to the fore and making Starts at Sixty a fun place to be.

  1. This Liberal Government will not be happy until they have destroyed medicare,bone density tests are necessary to be detect osteoporosis or osteopaenia and the risk of future bone fractures. These test are vital for older Australians, breaks can easily occur due to thinning bones. Once again they target the elderly

    18 REPLY
    • Exactly Libbi, they hate Medicare with a passion, they destroyed Medibank years ago, Medicare is suffering at their hands…

    • agree with you all but the ALP will continue to fight this, it was an ALP Government who gave us Medicare and the Liberal Government has tried to tear it down ever since, it would be more convenient for the Liberal Government if anyone over 60 just lay down and died

    • It people don’t have colonoscopies and bone scans for nothing ! It’s not like it is a lot of fun ! Not only Medicare will be ‘reformed’ . I just found out my age pension will also be reviewed !

      1 REPLY
      • I need colonoscopies every three years as they find a growth each time.
        Bone density tests every two years. I can’t afford to pay for these tests !!!

        1 REPLY
        • I am the same, every three years I have to go and there is always polups.
          Perhaps they are thinking if they stop us going we will get cancer and die.
          That is one way of saving pension money.

    • I cannot figure out why the govt dislike the older Australians so much don’t they realise that one day very soon they will be in the elderly category, oops I forgot our money will let them live the high life they won’t have to struggle

      1 REPLY
      • They don’t like older Australians because what we created, is too hard for them to maintain.
        Politicians that want to sell everything & terminate services do so because they are clueless how to run them & that cost them their cushy job.
        Despicably self serving traitors.

    • Rob Bower look at the salary of the bosses of Medibank ?? it was set up with tax payers funds by the Govt and now sold.. did we get any refunds ?? If they can afford to sponsor footy etc then lower your premiums and bugger the footy!

      2 REPLY
      • so agree, stop sponsoring football and other combat sports, would save heaps that way also, less sports injuries.

      • I agree Gerry. They should get rid of all CEO’s and many levels of management in all business. They have so many levels of management in Govt. Such as health, railways etc that no one makes sensible decisions that effect staff. It is all buck passing and they suck all the funding out and leave little for where it is needed. It’s all management and too few workers. They should leave Medicare alone unless they are increasing the refunds.

    • Medicare already doesn’t cover half the things and since it is us seniors who have the most health problems, the government’s policy is still about waging war on seniors. Trouble is seniors vote, but they seem to have forgotten…

    • Too true Rex….so all those years of paying taxes so we’d be ok in our later years was a rip off. To all those who say we get it for free.. don’t forget we worked from 15 to 65 and long hours too….we paid for Medicare. ..

    • if they think they are to the detriment of older bet they will Christine Richards

    • Unfortunately Sandie O’day I think you are right on the money, I’ve long felt that governments have no interest in what we think they make a show of opinion polls and then do what they want.

  2. They definitely shouldn’t be scraped but there could be stricter guidelines on Doctors ordering them.

    1 REPLY
    • I agree the tests should not be completely dropped but the no. I have colonoscopys but the hospital always extended it by another year after it was ok i know have 1 every 5yearsml

  3. Another attack on Medicare by the Liberals, Abbotts ghost still lives on the with his rotten policies

    5 REPLY
    • The policies have not changed, Abbott tried to attack medicare and Turnbull is now showing he is just a pawn of the conservatives

    • Abbott set the tone for this government. Howard and Liberal governments before this one were far more moderate

      1 REPLY
      • Howard did things by stealth, at least Mr Abbott was upfront with what was happening (until Scott Morrison came along with his policy of secrecy).

  4. Once again the Government want to strike out at the elderly because as they have said in the past we’re putting a strain on welfare! Well I do have PRIVATE HEALTH INSURANCE which goes up every JANUARY however we are getting less BENEFITS which means our out of pocket cost have increased, living on a pension does not cover the out of pocket costs we are expected to pay, so If the GOVERNMENT CONTINUE TO ATTACK THE ELDERLY they will discover that people will be forced to DROP their PRIVATE HEALTH and opt out for FREE MEDICAL in public hospitals which will really TAX THE PUBLIC HEALTH BILL AND BLOW OUT THE WATING TIMES.

    25 REPLY
    • I don’t know how long on a single aged pension can l keep on paying the out of pocket expenses with Private Health Ins…… I have a Chronic illness & cannot go onto Public Hospital waiting lists or is it R.I.P.

      1 REPLY
      • I know what you mean Marylyn. I have a chronic auto-immune disorder and I can’t go and sit for six hours in a public waiting room just to be told there is an appointment in twelve months. I need to be able to go to hospital and be treated promptly. I am trying to hold on to my private health, but you watch the government give them the go-ahead to raise their premiums again in the new year.

    • I agree with you Jillian however if they did that it would be no fun for the Government as they might have to stop attacking the elderly which has become their favourite pass time.

    • What are you reading ? The multiple tests they are suggesting removing are not tests that should be done multiple times , but are expensive . They are NOT REMOVING THEM , but limiting them .
      Why did you find that a problem ?

      1 REPLY
      • I agree, I got a referral from my GP on Friday to have a Bone Density Test, Last one said my bones would last until I was 98, over ten years ago, If this one agrees, then I shouldn’t need another. Its not something we need often unless there is a problem. Why do we have such a negative attitude?

    • Colonoscopy’s should be done regularly Carolyn. My husband has had two so far, and is booked to have his 3rd in 4 years. Both times he has had 20+ polyps removed. Polyps can turn cancerous. Would you prefer he ignore the bleeding and just die?

    • Carolyn Brown I agree Carolyn Brown they are not saying that they will not be available and of course if you need them that is a totally different case. What they should be saying is that every persons situation will be monitored and if it is necessary to save lives the tests are available!!!

    • Carolyn you obviously don’t know why the tests are done in the first place, and if they have to be repeated its because they need to keep an eye on those who are at risk.

    • Carolyn Brown To get any test done you have to go to a doctor to get permission to have it done. If the doctor thinks it is warranted it is not up to the Government to say it isn’t. Not unless they are all doctors and can see the patient for themselves.

    • Carolyn Brown Do you know what an Arthroscopy is? It is not a test, it is a procedure where damaged cartilege is removed from joints such as the knee. Do you suffer from lower back pain? What does the government consider excessive scanning? I had a scan done on my lower back recently to determine the cause of the pain I was suffering then a few weeks later had another scan done so the doctor could see that the cortisone needle was going where it was needed.

    • I have private HI but what do I get for my money ? the only benefit I see is less waiting time for treatment..It still costs me more to have something done…I’m re-assessing whether I should continue to pay for HI ??

    • Laurel Wanders You obviously didn’t read the full story. The government isn’t going to monitor these items, they want to SCRAP them from the list of procedures covered by Medicare.

    • I agree Gerry, although I like the fact that I can get straight in if I need to go to hospital, however after 3 major surgeries in 15 months my out of pocket costs were just under $4000.00 dollars, if you don’t have it you will have to wait but you won’t have anything to pay out of pocket!

    • Yep we have private health and we’ve only had health problems now we are past 65. We paid taxes til we retired so yes we’ve paid for Medicare and am pissed off that the government wants to cut benefits to the elderly. ….we paid taxes all those years and never needed the benefits. … My poor hubby has had so many health issues in the past year it’s cost a lot cause he had to go private. …the government always goes after the elderly and the young….education is another area the government needs to spend more…

    • Sue Todd! As I said in an earlier post i have them regularly for health reasons . Two years after polyps and three years without . Due to family bowel cancer and other bowel diseases . Regularly does NOT mean two a year or even one per year !!
      That is what the government plans to stop . Excessive over use . Nothing objectionable about that , really . They are NOT stopping all tests .And it would suit you Sue, NOT make assumptions about other people. Thank you

      1 REPLY
      • They are not going to stop the tests just that they won’t be available on Medicare. Read the info’ again to get your facts straight

    • Thanks trusty Trish !! As a nurse of 47 years you would think I would know what a colonoscopy is , and as I personally have them every two to three years ! I probably know more than you . Or am I assuming to much of someone I don’t know ? Hummmm . !!!’ Scary isn’t it , you are jumping the gun on me just like you are with the. Medicare , take your time and read carefully , it’s common sense , NO ONE IS STOPPING TESTS .

      1 REPLY
      • Carolyn Brown I am also a retired RN/Midwife who worked for 47 years. There’s no need to be rude in your comments. I realize they are doing a review of procedures and are planning to stop over servicing. But knowing the Liberal Govt nothing they do would surprise me. They have been trying to tear down Medicare since it started so I understand why so many seniors including myself are concerned.

    • Gee you are a nurse Carolyn but you seem to have trouble reading and comprehending … this is straight from the article in the link:-

      “Items that the Government wants scrapped:

      Bone mineral density testing (usually done on people over 70 years)

      Colonoscopy (With concerns some people are getting too many and others too few)

      Knee arthroscope

      Imaging for clearer understanding of lower back pain


      See the word “scrapped” in there? That does NOT mean limited, it means done away with! And who the hell are you to decide how often a person needs a colonoscopy … normal screening may be two-yearly but if you have someone with a history of abnormal results and a doctor decides yearly testing is essential you do not get to decide if that is excessive.

    • Jillian Howe and Trish Daley what are you thinking ? Cut benefits to mothers and young on the dole they are healthy.
      How the bloody hell would you know ?
      You are just as bad as the government in their presumption to kill everything off for those that can afford it least.
      My fit healthy 21 year old grandson who certainly dosent look sick had a cornia transplant on thursday.
      My 18 year old grand daughter dosent look sick but has had 4 ear surgerys this year as a complication from meningitis.
      You can’t lump everyone into the basket of 1 size fits all. And for those that can work tell us where are the jobs.not all single mothers are the same either. I became one when I was widowed.

    • Well that was a knee jerk reaction Carolyn. As a nurse of 47 years I assume you realise not everyone is the same, My husband had a colonoscopy about 12 months ago. He is bleeding fairly heavily again, are you saying he should wait another 12 months before he gets it checked? You think that would be safe do you? His doctor thinks otherwise, but if you think it’s ok I’ll explain to the doctor that a nurse who has never set eyes on my husband says he can wait

    • I’m still trying to find where I made assumptions about you Carolyn. Stuffed if I can find where I commented about you, I didn’t even know you’d had a colonoscopy. I was just referencing my husbands case. Oh well!

  5. Except for the tonsillectomy the others are all age related problems. So once again they hit the aged and disabled.
    Good on ya Turnbull. Dig your grave abit deeper and give us even more reason to get rid of the LNP at the next election.

    1 REPLY
    • Ruth the lower back scans also aren’t aged related. I am only 32 but need regular back scans due to having S shaped scoliosis

  6. I have bone troubles. Have had ovarian cancer. My specialist told me have keep eye on bones. Still won, t pet me have it. On jobfind. Look after 3 grandbabies. So m ch pain . In hip. Unbeleivable. Am 63. Had me ve as two of my grandsons have be near specialists. Don’t see my specialist. That look after me good

  7. This Government won’t be happy until we are all dead, if they can’t kill us with stress they will find another way

    1 REPLY
    • LOL don’t stress Rozzy. Malcolm and his chorts will all be lining up for lumbar scans in the next year or so…knife wounds do that!

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