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Health initiatives

Increased budget for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention

 

The government is committing $2.3 billion to deliver structural reform and change for Australians that require assistance. The main areas to be addressed include:

  • prevention and early intervention
  • suicide prevention
  • treatment
  • support for the vulnerable, and
  • workforce and governance.
     

Mercer’s Perspective

 

With the increasing prevalence of mental health challenges, facing many Australians, which has been exacerbated by the impact of the pandemic, Mercer welcomes the increase in the mental health budget and the concentration in early intervention and suicide prevention in predominantly young Australians.  

Federal Budget

 

 

Implication for employers 

This provides additional resources to employees and employers to help address mental health issues that can impact the workplace and the home.  We anticipate the impact of mental health will continue to be a significant issue for employers to manage and therefore any additional support from the government is welcomed.  The challenge for employers will be to understand how government initiatives can align and support employer initiated initiatives.

 

Implication for individuals

Greater government funding can only assist individuals and their families impacted by the growing incidence of mental health issues. 

 

 

Rural Health Strategy

 

The government will implement a progressive incentive schedule, which increases bulk billing payments for doctors based on remoteness, ensuring Australians living in regional, rural and remote areas can access high quality, timely and live-saving healthcare when and where they are needed.


 

Mercer’s Perspective

 

In a workforce where employees are increasingly working from home and / or moving to regional areas, an incentive programme to attract doctors to regional and remote areas is a welcomed initiative.     

 

 

Implication for employers 

With projected lower employee numbers returning to work in CBD offices , and employees electing to move to regional areas for work- life balance, employers can feel more comfortable in the knowledge employees have access to adequate medical specialists.  

 

Implication for individuals

This initiative will go some way in changing the perception of individuals thinking of moving regionally for quality of life, and provide reassurance that they will have access to quality healthcare in regional areas.

 

 

Measures to improve sustainability and affordability of Private Health Insurance (PHI)

 

The current policy settings for the Medicare Levy Surcharge (MLS) and PHI Rebate income tiers will continue for a further two years, allowing an in-depth study of the effectiveness of current regulatory settings.


 

Mercer’s Perspective

 

The current MLS threshold and PHI rebate income tiers have remained unchanged since 2014 and a review of these thresholds is welcomed.

 

 

Implication for employers 

Any increase in PHI Rebate tiers may see the cost of subsidised employee health plans reduce subject to employee income levels. 

 

Implication for individuals

An increase in PHI Rebate tiers may see the cost of self-funded health plans reduce subject to individual or family income levels. 

 

 

Telehealth services extended for a further six months

 

The government has extended the funding of telehealth until the end of 2021
 

 

Mercer’s Perspective

 

This initiative will see individuals without easy physical access to doctors and allied health services able to continue with online consultations.  Whilst this is a positive step, we would welcome a more permanent approach to funding that has the potential to normalise the provision of telehealth, rather than it being seen as a pandemic related solution.

 

 

Implication for employers 

Anything that improves employee access to specialists can only improve the ongoing health of the community and workforce.  Telehealth has the potential to support greater and more timely access to care facilitating early intervention and return to health and work.  It can be a more cost effective way to treat patients and where employers contribute directly or indirectly to this cost (through subsidised health insurance or worker’s compensation schemes) there may be longer term savings.

 

Implication for individuals

Anything that improves access to care for people in rural and remote locations or unable to easily attend face to face due to disability or medical conditions has the potential to improve health outcomes for individuals. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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