Consumer protection

Seniors call for health insurance shake-up

National Seniors has urged the Federal Government to focus on inefficiencies in the Australian health insurance system, rather than allowing private health insurers to keep jacking up premiums.

Chief Advocate Ian Henschke today said the affordability of private health insurance was one of the biggest concerns for older Australians.

Premiums increased by almost 40 per cent between 2010 and 2016, and would rise another 4.8 per cent from 1 April, which was around three times the rate of inflation.

Beware of fake online stores

Consumer watchdog, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), is warning online shoppers to be wary of scammers masquerading as legitimate retailers.

The scammers often sold well-known brands at too-good-to-be-true prices, said ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard.

So far in 2017, the ACCC’s Scamwatch service had received more than 1000 reports of online shopping scams worth a total of over $150,000.

Government to set aged care quality standards

Australian government-subsidised aged care services will have to meet a single set of quality standards under reforms due to come into force from July next year.

Minister for Aged Care Ken Wyatt said the Single Aged Care Quality Framework had been designed in consultation with industry and aged care representatives.

Two key parts of the framework are:

Call to cut prescription drugs prices

A new report calls for an overhaul in the way the government pays for prescription drugs, saying that Australians pay more than $500 million a year too much.

The Grattan Institute’s report Cutting a better drug deal says taxpayers and patients would pay less if the federal government changed the way prices are set under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).

The report finds drug prices in Australia are more than twice as high as in the UK and more than three times higher than in New Zealand.

Shop around for best deals on hearing aids

Consumer watchdog the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) wants the hearing clinics industry to reconsider commissions, disclosure and sales practices.

In its report Issues around the sale of hearing aids, the ACCC urges consumers to be aware that hearing clinics are mostly profit-making businesses like any other store and consumers should shop around for the best hearing aid to suit their needs.

Women short-changed on super

New research shows women are being short-changed on super as well as earning lower wages than men.

Marking International Women’s Day (Wednesday, 8 March), Industry Super Australia said that an analysis of the latest data from the Australian Tax Office (ATO) reveals women working for wages and eligible for the Superannuation Guarantee were underpaid $1.84 billion in super contributions by their employers in 2013-14.

The average shortfall was $1,550.

Call to cut prescription drugs prices

A new report calls for an overhaul in the way the government pays for prescription drugs, saying that Australians pay more than $500 million a year too much.

The Grattan Institute’s report Cutting a better drug deal says taxpayers and patients would pay less if the federal government changed the way prices are set under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).

The report finds drug prices in Australia are more than twice as high as in the UK and more than three times higher than in New Zealand.

Shop around for best deals on hearing aids

Consumer watchdog the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) wants the hearing clinics industry to reconsider commissions, disclosure and sales practices.

In its report Issues around the sale of hearing aids, the ACCC urges consumers to be aware that hearing clinics are mostly profit-making businesses like any other store and consumers should shop around for the best hearing aid to suit their needs.

Higher standards for financial advisers

Financial advisers will have to meet higher educational, ethical and qualification standards after legislation passed in federal parliament this week.

Minister for Revenue and Financial Services, Kelly O’Dwyer, said the new standards, which  come into force on 1 January 2019, mean that all new financial advisers must hold a relevant degree, pass an approved exam, undertake a professional year, commit to ongoing professional development and comply with a Code of Ethics.

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