The problem with Medicare

Sinead Simpkins is the Secretary of Parramatta-Hills Young Labor Association

One of the great things about having a Labor government is how we fight for the working class rather than for big business and the 1% richest. One of many great Labor initiatives was Medicare. While Medicare is a great plan to help everyone to get a universal health care, it still has a long way to go to being perfect.

While Medicare and the Low Income Healthcare card allowed me to have free teeth check-ups, those who are in the brackets of being low income to being well off where they can get the basics in life, do not have these added bonuses of a healthcare card for those on Centrelink or those who are extremely well off with a disposable income. From my experience, Medicare and the current state of health funding is atrocious for the most vulnerable. One example, was that my sister, who was 29, before passing away with neuroendocrine cancer in February 2017. She was a regional manager for a retail giant (whom was extremely supportive of my sister during the 18 months she was dealing with the disease) and her and along with my family were dealing with treatments that weren’t covered by Medicare. These treatments that were still being trialled cost anywhere to upwards of $30,000. We were very lucky that my sister’s friends set up a GoFundMe page to cover the costs and news outlets cover her story. However, not all of those who suffer these diseases or basics such as trying to fix teeth can afford or get the light it deserves.

Keytruda (or otherwise known as pembrolizumab) is a drug that can be lifesaving for numerous cancer patients. It essentially can remove these barriers created by cancer cells and eventually destroy the cancer. It not only can potentially help those with neuroendocrine like my sister, but other cancers such as bladder or Hodgkin lymphoma. Medicare does not cover that. If these treatments that have the potential to save lives, why does the government properly fund these scientific discoveries? Why does any government force everyday Australians with a choice of being massively in debt or death? There should not be a choice between the two.

One option for most Australians is getting private health insurance or just ‘getting a better job’ in order to cover these costs. But when it comes to paying private health insurance or getting a better job, it isn’t as simple. There are numerous factors that can create a barrier for those who are getting by and those who can afford it because of a disposable income. There should be an easier access for those who do face a wider range of diseases or basic services. We shouldn’t face $2,000 to do a basic teeth check-up and removing two teeth, nor should anyone with any type of cancer or disease have to face with a choice of finding the money with a lifesaving treatment or death.


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