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Cost of living report



Cost of living report


Northern Territory Council of Social Services Incorporated report; Reports; PublicationNT




Made available via the Publications (Legal Deposit) Act 2004 (NT).


Tracking changes in the cost of living, particularly for vulnerable and disadvantaged Northern Territorians: The Cost of Health in the Territory




Northern Territory Council of Social Service -- Periodicals; Public welfare -- Northern Territory -- Periodicals; Social service -- Northern Territory -- Periodicals; Non-governmental organizations -- Northern Territory -- Periodicals

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Northern Territory Council of Social Service Incorporated

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Issue no. 4

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13 The Benefits of Increased Health Expenditure It is important to also acknowledge that there are benefits both health and social and financial - for the increased expenditure on health at a population as well as an individual level. While there is an ageing population, necessitating an increased slice of the Federal Budget going towards health, and in particular aged care services, the other side to this is that people are living longer. In addition more health services are being provided to more people, for example in the form of early detection and screening; or treatment for cancer; or surgical intervention such as hip replacements, much more than occurred in the past. As Daley (2014a, p.10), from the Grattan Institute has documented that there has been a real increase in expenditure from 2003-2013 of $2012 billion on health, resulting in more, improved, and new services per person. Daley and McGannon (2014c, p.1) state that Over the past decade health expenditure rose by over $40 billion in real terms, with health and infrastructure spending... [growing] faster than GDP (Daley 2014a, p.1). Daley and McGannon (2014c, p.1), argue that the ageing population was not the prime cause, but that it is the fact that people of any age saw doctors more often, had more tests and operations and took more prescription drugs. They also note that: Similarly, Age Pension costs grew much faster than GDP3, not because of population ageing, but with policy decisions to increase benefits and widen eligibility. (Daley and McGannon2014c, p.1). However despite the increase in spending at a population level and health improvements at both a population and individual level for many people, there are people who remain incredibly vulnerable. For example, unemployed households remain the most vulnerable, with over 45% of job seeker payment4 recipients in poverty for greater than two years and 49% of job seeker payment recipients paying greater than 30% of their income on housing which compares with 22% and 19% of other government payment recipients (Daley 2014b, p.11),. So despite significant investments in the health system, health costs still disproportionately impact on the most vulnerable people in low income households. Federal Government Budget Impact on Health Expenditure for Low Income Households Reductions in Income Support Payments The recent Federal Budget released (May 2014) has a number of budget changes of enormous concern to NTCOSS and the COSS Network across the country. The proposals, if passed by Parliament, will result in a large number of people on income support payments and low income households being much worse off financially. According to the Australian Council of Social service (ACOSS) "The people that will particularly be affected are those under 30 looking for work, people with disabilities, carers, single parents and struggling low income pensioners and families. The income losses sustained by many people relying on income support and family payments are large and crippling. (ACOSS (2014b)). (See Appendix for summary of changes to pension allowance and benefit levels). Introduction of a Medicare Co-payment ACOSS also argue that the very same people who will be impacted by reductions in income support payments will also be hardest hit by the Federal Government move to introduce a $7 co-payment for doctor's visits and other services (ACOSS (2014b)). These services will include services such as pathology tests and diagnostic imaging (ACOSS (2014a)]. While Payments will be capped at 10 visits a year for pensioners and children under 16, and there are also reports that people on chronic health plans will be exempted from the payment (ACOSS 2014 p.35); there are concerns that overall the introduction of the scheme will deter patients with severely constrained incomes, particularly those with complex health conditions, from seeking necessary help, leading to more costly hospitalisations down the track. (ACOSS 2014b) In addition to the Medicare co-payment, the cost of Pharmaceutical Benefit Scheme (PBS) prescriptions is set to increase by up to $5 (ACOSS 2014a, p.35], which will put further pressure on low income households. 3 In particular Commonwealth Government spending on Aged care almost doubled in the last 10 years (JD2) 4 Notes: Job seeker payment includes Newstart and jobseeker Youth Allowance. Other govt payment is dominated by age and disability pensions. Source: Grattan analysis of Phillips and Nepal (2012).

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