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Rising health insurance costs are hitting older people hard. In today’s The Age newspaper, Rania Spooner reports on the Melbourne University’s Household, Income and Labour Dynamics survey which shows that older couples were most likely to be insured (71 per cent) and were also the group who experienced the steepest increase in costs rising 31 per cent in eight years.

Ronda Held, CEO COTA Victoria said healthcare and the inability to afford health insurance was the single biggest concern for older Australians.

“Older people whose only income is the pension cannot afford private health insurance and have to rely on the public health system with its long waiting lists,” she said.

Also today in Canberra COTA is holding a National Policy Forum, Reframing Primary Healthcare for Older Australians bringing together health experts. They have called on governments to change how they approach and deliver health services to older Australians and the need to shift the focus away from emergency departments to preventative and coordinated health care programs.

COTA Australia CEO Ian Yates said the WHO World Report on Ageing and Health urged governments and health care providers to break down the stereotype that poor health is an inevitable part of “being old” and recognise that healthcare is a human right whatever your age or health status.

“We need to focus on preventative health programs and caring for people properly before they need access to emergency departments.   Helping people to remain in good health and to properly manage chronic conditions such as arthritis or diabetes will mean they may be able to stay in work longer, remain living independently and continue to contribute to their families and communities,” Ian Yates said.

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