January 24, 2010

AUSTRALIA: Rudd warns of massive hikes in health costs

. SYDNEY, New South Wales / ABC News / Just In / January 24, 2010 Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has warned Government health costs will increase substantially over the coming decades. New Treasury figures predict health spending on Australians over 65 will be seven times more in 40 years. Mr Rudd says the figures predict the Commonwealth's health spending will increase by more than $200 billion by 2050. "That means increasing in average Australian Government health spending per person from $2,300 to about $7,200 dollars in 2050," he said. Mr Rudd says Australia must boost its productivity to cope with the costs of an ageing population. Mr Rudd says Australia must boost its productivity to cope with the ageing population costs. (www.photoxpress.com: Julian May) He says the amount the Federal Government spends on health is expected to reach almost 8 per cent of GDP by 2050. "This is a product of the increasing age of Australians overall and secondly, the fact that with innovations in pharmaceuticals and medical technologies and the rest, the cost of treating each individual aged Australian will rise as well," he said. He says with fewer people in the workforce to generate tax revenue, governments around the nation are facing rapidly rising health costs. Mr Rudd says the only way to pay for it, is to boost the productivity of the workforce. "It is not to make people work longer, that we speak of, it is to enable people to work smarter by drawing upon the most up to date technology and the most up to date skills," he said. "That's what makes a difference in boosting our productivity growth." He says 2010 must be and will be a year of reform. "These are challenging statistics but it's important that the nation becomes familiar with them because we must do something about them," he said. Treasury also warns that the states are on a path of spending more than 100 per cent of their tax revenue on health in 30 years time. The Government will announce early this year what parts of the health system it plans to take control from the states. [rc] © 2010 ABC