It’s official, the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) will cost taxpayers around $22 billion a year (gross) in its first full year of operation, a marked increase on the $15 billion figure that is being widely used in the public debate.
The NDIS will provide lifetime care and support to Australians born with a permanent and severe disability or who have acquired one.
The current system of support (which costs around $7 billion a year, not including the disability support pension) has been characterised by the Productivity Commission as “underfunded, unfair, fragmented, and inefficient, and gives people with a disability little choice and no certainty of access to appropriate supports.”
Why should we expect others to cover our needs when we could and should do it ourselves?
We want a consumer lifestyle and for the Government to pay, provide and in short, take from someone else to cover those things we insist are basic needs.
Basic needs that are apparently not so important that we set aside our own money before discretionary spending to cover them.
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Taking out health insurance is basically a gamble. You’re putting your coins in the slot every week or month, hoping it’ll be worth your while in the end.
Be grateful we haven’t got to this point
There are no flashing lights, and there’s a good chance your investment will only pay off if something goes seriously wrong.
The same principle applies for home and contents, income insurance, pet insurance, and all the other types of insurance daytime television pushes with sincerely concerned smiles and emotion-laden arguments. You might die and leave your family impoverished. So give us your money instead.
Bronwyn Bishop’s attack in yesterday’s Punch on the Government’s proposed means testing of the private health insurance rebate claims that people earning less than $50,000 will be the worst off. This is completely false.
People earning $50,000 or less will be among the 8 million health insurance policy holders that will not be affected by means testing at all. They won’t lose a dollar. Mrs Bishop should stop scaring pensioners.
Currently all families and individuals who pay private health insurance premiums are eligible for a rebate of at least 30 per cent on the cost of their insurance. It doesn’t matter how much you earn, you still receive the rebate. That money comes from the taxes of every working Australian. At the moment the same people that Bronwyn Bishop claims to care about are subsidising the rebate being paid to millionaires. They’re subsidising her private health insurance rebate and mine.
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Imagine this: A report finds without a shadow of doubt that the standard of schools in Australia are drastically below par. In fact, the first sentence of such a report suggests the nation’s schools are under-funded, under-resourced and under-valued.
The Government releases the report and says: “We know there is a problem, but we can’t do anything about it right now, because we can’t afford it. But don’t worry, we’ll do something in the next seven years, promise!” Every parent with school age children would be up in arms. Teachers would march on Parliament House in a riot. Principals would call it an outrage. It would make frontpage news. Certainly no one would welcome the Government’s “contribution” to the debate by finally recognising there was a problem.
Yet when the Productivity Commission released its report into Disability Support Services last month this was exactly what happened. Granted, not all were happy with the seven year timeline, but the great majority were satisfied that at least “something” was happening in the way of disability policy.
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A story recently published on news.com.au about a policy from Million Dollar Woman offering stay at home parents compensation if they are unable to work, totally bemused me. Well not so much the story, which was great. It was the accompanying poll that grabbed my attention. The poll simply asked “Should stay-at-home mums be compensated if they get sick?”
Now given that in order to receive the compensation you have to have taken out an insurance policy to the tune of $40 or $60 a month for the Day-to-Day Living Expenses Cover to pay you either $1,000 or $1,500 fortnightly, it seems a no-brainer to me. Absolutely I say, compensate.
This is a simple insurance policy protecting in most cases the primary care giver in the family. It is not subsidised by the tax payer. It costs us nothing. So given that it is a self-funded voluntary insurance, why would anyone respond to that poll question with a No?
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My wife and I came from traditional working class backgrounds and single income families. We are now considered middle class as we live in our own home, we own a newish car and enjoy a comfortable lifestyle because we have worked hard and saved for the future.
Our home, car and assets are insured and we have managed our finances carefully in order to access such benefits as private health insurance. In the current economic climate we are regarded as “haves” but we seem despised by some elements of the community who consider themselves the “have nots”
American pollster John Zogby sees a growing number of the community falling into the “have not” category. He calls them the “Dreamless Dead” being those who no longer believe in the existence of hard work to achieve success in life.
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When it’s framed as a global insurance policy issue, you don’t even need to believe passionately in the likelihood of catastrophic climate change to support doing something about it.
When Kevin Rudd said climate change was the greatest moral challenge of our time he framed the issue as one of conviction and belief. Tony Abbott’s response has been similarly framed by the opposite – disbelief and skepticism.
It comes as no surprise to many who know these two leaders that they would frame the debate around themes such as faith and belief.
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On April 1, health insurance premiums rose across the board by an average of 5.56 per cent. The increase happens every year, while the percentage that premiums increase by differs. This year’s increase, according to research by iSelect, equates to around five million baskets of groceries or eight million tanks of petrol. It would also be enough to buy groceries for 100,000 families for a year. In individual dollar terms it works out to an average annual increase in premiums of $190 per family.
So last week I did a number of radio interviews, talking about the increase and suggesting ways that consumers can try to reduce their personal cost while making sure that they have appropriate cover. And one question that I was asked (fortunately off-air, because it took me aback a little) was whether I thought it was fair that everyone – regardless of size or health – paid the same premium.
It’s a version of a question that I’ve been asked a number of times: Should health insurance should be medically underwritten. In other words, should the overweight, underweight, smokers and otherwise-unhealthy among us be paying more for their health insurance? The crux of the reasoning, of course, being that the healthy consumers in the population are paying more than their fair share of premiums. And that’s not fair, right?
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With the fate of the proposed flood levy hanging in the balance as we await the outcome of negotiations between Senator Nick Xenophon and the Federal Government, it‘s timely to have a close look at the whole issue of disaster insurance and the insurance industry generally.
A sad reality emerging from this summer’s national disasters is that not only have we been as a nation generally under-insured for natural disasters, but more significantly for consumers the insurance companies are basically a law unto themselves when it comes to paying out on insurance contracts.
As anyone who has tried to take on an insurance company knows all too well, the legal cards are stacked in the company’s favour.
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John Tsouroutis has taken a $1 million salary cut to join a crusade to make states look after themselves. He’s now on the relative hardscrabble of an adviser’s pay in the office of independent senator Nick Xenophon.
Tsouroutis was managing director of the TIO banking and insurance group from 2003 until 2008 when the commute from Adelaide to Darwin became too much for the family.
From his business career he knows how government can force individuals to insure themselves. Just take third party cover for motorists. He wants to make sure state governments do the same thing, rather than expect someone else to pay reconstruction costs after a natural disaster. Tsouroutis was on an elite salary with TIO and hopes to get back on one soon. But he’s got a big job to complete first.
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We have a remarkable confluence of disasters.
Not only have individuals suffered massive losses from the recent floods - partly because of the lack of an effective insurance market - but so has the community at large.
Massive amounts of infrastructure - roads, bridges, rail and so on - have been damaged by the floods and the government is faced with paying billions of dollars to repair and replace this infrastructure. Although local and state government will need to take responsibility for this, the funding will mostly come from the Commonwealth Government.
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The bills are rolling in and then you notice the insurance policy for the house and contents is due. The cost seems astronomical and you are left thinking how insuring your property can be so expensive.
How will you afford to pay the insurance bill? The question really should be how you can neglect to pay for insurance, instead putting your economic livelihood at stake. You study your policy to look for clues to justify the cost.
Why is the policy so expensive? Are there any ways of making the premium any cheaper? Although you are analysing the cost, there is little understanding of how the premium is actually calculated.
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Enough is enough. The diabolical mess surrounding flood insurance must be resolved now before even more Australian families are sent to the financial brink at their time of need.
As we watch the flood devastation around the country, understand that up to half those affected will not be covered by insurance - even though they have a home and contents policy and think they’re protected.
The reason is the small print in their policy (be honest, how many have actually read that bit?) and the fact that many insurance companies have had their fancy lawyers draft definitions of “flood” which don’t actually payout on a flood situation.
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