Australia: Obese to Pay for Their Own Health Care

by Rajashri on Oct 6 2008 4:03 PM

Obese Australians may soon be forced to foot their own health care bills if a proposal by the state of Queensland is adopted.

Treating preventable medical conditions caused by obesity, smoking, alcohol and sun exposure consumes Queensland's health system's almost 5 billion dollars a year.

According to new Queensland Government figures, so-called lifestyle diseases also cost the economy a further 22 billion dollars in lost productivity and social factors, including lost earnings and the cost to carers.

The cost of treating these preventable conditions will wipe out 57 per cent of the state's record 8.35 billion dollars health budget for 2008-2009.

The govt said that it's time for individuals to take more responsibility for their health.

And therefore, conservatives in the State Government have put forward a plan that includes a user-pays health system for the obese.

The govt is also considering compulsory health checks for three and four-year-olds at childcare centres around the state.

The plan is to spot any signs of chronic disease early and provide advice to parents.

"We're facing a tsunami of chronic disease in the coming years, thanks to lifestyle changes and our rapidly ageing population," the Courier Mail quoted Queensland Health Minister Stephen Robertson, as saying.

"Queenslanders need to realise they face an increasing financial burden from preventable chronic diseases.

"If Queensland continues its current rates of population growth, economic growth and public health spending, by 2042 the entire state budget will be consumed by health. That's why we need to tackle this upsurge in chronic disease before it overwhelms us," he added.