Consumer protection

Seniors urged to seek financial advice before joining Airbnb

National Seniors Australia has voiced its support for a partnership announced yesterday between the NSW Government and Airbnb to encourage more seniors to sign up to the home sharing platform.

But Chief Advocate Ian Henschke said involvement as hosts could have some serious impacts for retirees and pensioners, who should seek detailed advice before opening their homes to paying guests.

“On the surface, this looks like a great way to meet new people and earn some extra income,” Mr Henschke said.

One in two have phone or internet problems

Around one in two Australians have suffered a problem with their phone or internet service, Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman Judi Jones said.

Almost 3,000 people from across Australia’s residential consumers and small businesses were surveyed, Ms Jones told an industry conference this week.

She said the survey found 20 per cent of residential consumers had more than one phone or internet issue over the past year, and one in four issues remained unresolved after four months.

Estate planning workshop for WA seniors

If you have a will but you are still unsure about your care when you are no longer able to make your own decisions, then National Seniors can help.

An estate planning workshop in Perth next month will assist you to plan for the time others may have to choose on your behalf, if you’re unable, and dictate how your wealth is distributed on your death.

The three-hour workshop will go beyond wills and help towards mapping out a comprehensive estate plan aimed at engaging with your family.

Travel agent fined for price fixing

Australia’s biggest travel agent has had its fines increased after breaching competition laws by trying to induce three international airlines to enter into price fixing arrangements.

Consumer watchdog the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) said the Full Federal Court of Australia this week ordered Flight Centre to pay penalties totalling $12.5 million over the price fixing arrangements between 2005 and 2009.

Flight Centre had sought each airline to agree not to offer airfares on its own website that were less than those offered by Flight Centre.

Three quarters of Australians struggle with health fund costs

More than three quarters of Australians are struggling with the cost of private health insurance.

A consumer report by Choice has found the cost of private health insurance was second to electricity as the top cost of living concern.

A total of 77 per cent of those with health insurance said it was taking its toll on their household budgets.

Earlier this year, a Choice survey found 70 per cent of Australians who did not have private health insurance said it was because it was too expensive.

Seniors call for health cost shake-up

National Seniors has renewed its appeal to the Federal Government to focus on inefficiencies in the health system, saying average out-of-pocket expenses had increased by three times the inflation rate over the past decade.

National Seniors’ Chief Advocate Ian Henschke said revelations at the weekend in media reports that the Australian Medical Association (AMA) was recommending specialists charge up to three times more than the Medicare fee for hospital procedures showed why many older people were struggling to pay health costs.

Don't fall for a scammer's puppy dog eyes

Would-be puppy owners beware – the photo of that adorable dog may be just a scam to part you from your cash.

The ACCC’s Delia Rickard said scammers play on the emotions of people keen to own a puppy – particularly if they have their hearts set on a particular breed.

In the past 12 months, 584 reports totalling more than $310,000 had been made, Ms Rickard said.

Seniors suffering because of rising costs

Many older Australians were struggling to maintain even a modest standard of living because of spiralling power, health and other costs, National Seniors Australia said today.

National Seniors Chief Advocate Ian Henschke said the impacts of rising costs were exacerbated by government rules preventing seniors from earning more than $6,500 a year without losing part of their Age Pension.

No notice for aged care home inspections

All Australian aged care homes were now subject to unannounced quality and safety audits, Aged Care Minister Ken Wyatt announced this week.

The legislation, which came into force on Sunday, 17 March, meant the homes would no longer be given notice of the date of their re-accreditation audit.

“These changes will strengthen the oversight of aged care services to provide greater assurance that standards of care are consistently maintained, not just at re-accreditation times,” Mr Wyatt said.

Uninsured patients choose to pay for private hospital treatment

Patients without private health insurance are choosing to pay hefty private hospital fees rather than wait it out in the public system.

New research from comparison website finder.com.au shows almost one in five Australians (19 per cent) have paid for a visit to a private hospital rather than be seen at a public hospital. Nearly half of these had self-funded surgery in a private hospital.

The latest Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) data shows waiting times for elective surgery increased to 38 days nationally in 2016-17.

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