Vote 2016: Majority of voters concerned about privatisation of Medicare - poll

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The majority of voters are concerned about the possible end of Medicare in its current form including its privatisation, an exclusive SBS commissioned Essential Media poll has found.

The majority of voters say they’re concerned about the privatisation of Medicare as well as the possible end of the federal health insurance program in its current form, an exclusive SBS-commissioned Essential Media poll has found. Voters were polled on a range of issues, including the cost of private health insurance. Of those polled, 81 per cent said the privatisation of Medicare, as well as changes to it in its current form, were cause for concern.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has declared the July 2 election a referendum on the future of Medicare, despite the Prime Minister’s promise the coalition will ‘never, ever’ sell off any part of it.  The coalition has lashed out at Labor’s ‘extraordinarily dishonest scare campaign,’ and has declared for three days it won’t privatise the system. Labor has pointed to a $5 million project called the ‘digital payments services taskforce’ as proof the government plans to privatise the IT systems associated with Medicare.

“Every element of Medicare services that is currently being delivered by government will continue to be delivered by government, full stop,” Mr Turnbull told reporters in western Sydney.

“I am making a solemn commitment, an unequivocal commitment that every element of Medicare’s services will continue to be delivered by government.”

SBS has been asking voters for their opinion on the policies of the major parties as the marathon eight-week campaign draws to a close. Elaine Dunwoody works in IT and will be voting in the seat of Port Melbourne.

"I'm quite happy with the existing system so if they change it, it would change how I use the medical system," Ms Dunwoody said.

"[If Medicare was privatised] I might be more reluctant to call a doctor when my daughter's sick."

SBS also asked voters about the freezing of the Medicare rebate, an issue that 76 per cent said they were concerned with. The cost of private health insurance was also important, with 79 per cent polled agreeing it was an issue. Voters were more concerned with a shortage of nursing home places (68 per cent) than whether or not wealthy individuals had equal access to Medicare and pharmaceutical benefits (52 per cent).

More women (86 per cent) said they were concerned about the possible end to Medicare in its current form, than men (75 per cent). Similarly while the privatisation of Medicare was considered a concern by both genders, 86 per cent of women said they were concerned, compared with 75 per cent of men. Voters aged 55 years and over were the most concerned about changes to Medicare (86 per cent.)

While Essential Media tried to get a snapshot of the nation, the response rate and coverage for the online poll means an accurate cross section of Australia could not be ensured.

- with AAP

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