The federal budget introduces a $7 copayment for visiting a GP and an additional $7 fee for out of hospital pathology and diagnostic imaging services. It also increases the copayment for medicines by 80c to $6.90 to those eligible for concessions and by $5 to $42.70 for others.
Women’s Health East has undertaken analysis of the use of general practitioner services to see what the copayments will mean for women. “The changes to Medicare for visits to GPs will disproportionately disadvantage women” says Women’s Health East CEO Kristine Olaris.
Across the Eastern Metropolitan Region, women are more likely undertake various tasks and roles that will influence their costs of going to the GP, the impact on their disposable income and their health outcomes. Data from the 2011 census showed that in comparison to men, women in the Eastern Metropolitan Region were:
- 70% more likely to do unpaid domestic work
- 18% more likely to volunteer
- 46% more likely to have primary responsibility to care for children
- 13% more likely to assist a person with a disability
“When these increased medical costs are considered in light of women’s longer lifespan, lower workforce participation and lifetime incomes it is clear to see that the changes to Medicare will put significant pressure on women’s finances” says Ms Olaris. “These changes therefore have the potential to increase gender inequality”.
“Gender inequality underpins a broad array of health and wellbeing issues, particularly for women” says Ms Olaris.
“At a time when the community is becoming increasingly concerned about the epidemic of men’s violence against women, and when we know that gender inequality lies at the root of this problem, it is very concerning that policies are being planned without regard for their impact on equality” she says.