Cost of living

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.

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.

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.

Help with energy bills for vulnerable Queenslanders

Low income and vulnerable Queenslanders can now get a one-off payment of up to $720 towards their energy bills in times of emergency.

Queensland Minister for Energy Mark Bailey today outlined changes to the Home Energy Emergency Assistance Scheme (HEEAS) to make it easier for people to access the scheme.

“HEEAS helps low-income households who are in short-term financial difficulty because of unexpected, emergency expenses to get back on their feet through a one-off payment of up to $720 towards their energy account,” Mr Bailey said.

More older people battling housing stress

Older Australians are facing an increasingly uphill battle with the cost of renting in the private market, data from the Productivity Commission’s 2017 Report on Government Services shows.

Without access to Commonwealth Rent Assistance (CRA), 57.2 per cent of people aged over 75 years would have been in housing stress across Australia in 2016, according to the statistics.

After receiving CRA, a staggering 26.5 per cent of recipients aged 75 years or over were still in housing stress in 2016, up from 25.5 per cent in 2015.

Bigger cities breeding greater inequality

A new study shows Australia’s growing major cities are increasing the divide between rich and poor.

Dr Somwrita Sarkar of the University of Sydney’s Urban Lab said that as cities grew, a disproportionate amount of the wealth went to top income earners.

“Our research suggests that bigger cities are serving the rich more, and making them less affordable for all,” Dr Sarkar said.

“This could end up driving lower income earners out of the big cities or to the fringes, and creates greater inequality in Australian society.”

Older renters doing it tough

A new study has found an increasing number of older Australians are living in poverty and housing insecurity in retirement.

The Swinburne Institute for Social Research looked at the wealth of people aged 40 to 64 years and recent retirees.

It assessed the degree to which households can accumulate wealth for retirement, focusing on housing and the impact of relationships and divorce or separation.

Lead researcher Dr Andrea Sharam said lone person and couple-only renters aged over 45 tended to have little wealth.

Welfare system shake-up must invest in older people

National Seniors says any reform of the welfare system needs to ensure that assistance for older people is maintained.

The federal government this week announced the first stage in a new Australian Priority Investment Approach to Welfare that uses new data to identify and target groups most at risk of long-term welfare dependency.

Social Services Minister Christian Porter said that for the first time, government had evidence of exactly what was happening to people in the welfare system, down to very small groups.

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