All visitors to Australia will need to have health insurance under a NSW Government proposal designed to spare taxpayers the hospital costs of Medicare-ineligible patients.
Health Minister Brad Hazzard said each year NSW public hospitals write off about $30 million in unpaid medical expenses by visitors who fall ill without adequate insurance.
“I have written to the Commonwealth and other Health Ministers suggesting extending the health insurance requirement to all temporary visa classes,” Mr Hazzard said.
“Presently, it is only mandatory for some visa classes such as students and certain work visas to take out health insurance for the duration of their stay in Australia.
“This means every time an uninsured visitor does not pay for their treatment in one of our public hospitals, taxpayers foot the bill.”
About 16,000 Medicare-ineligible inpatients require hospitalisation each year in NSW. Of the $100 million invoiced to those patients or their insurers, around $70 million is paid.
The majority of the costs are for hospital accommodation charges. Other charges include providing prostheses for patients, radiology services and Staff Specialist fees.
“No person needing medical treatment will ever be turned away from a public hospital but this proposal will hopefully ensure taxpayers don’t wear the costs,” Mr Hazzard said.