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So the new scheme will introduce a greater level of means testing.
April 25, 2012


The extra charges for home-care are part of a broad aged-care overhaul.The extra charges for home-care are part of a broad aged-care overhaul.

MANY elderly Australians will face thousands of dollars a year in additional expenses to receive care at home under the Gillard government’s aged care reforms.

An analysis of the policy shows people on incomes of as little as $30,000 a year (including pension) could have to pay more than $3000 a year extra to receive care in the home.

Those on incomes exceeding $50,000 could be up for an extra $8000 a year in home-care costs.

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The extra charges will come in the form of a new means-tested ”care fee”, which will be added to the existing $1800 average basic fee for home care.

The charges are part of a broad aged-care overhaul under which the government – in a bid to meet growing demand from older people to stay longer in their homes – has promised a 60 per cent boost to 100,000 in the number of people getting subsidised home-care packages.

The services provided include personal care, home cleaning and transport.

An analysis of the government’s plans by UnitingCare Ageing found people with annual incomes of $30,000 would face minimum total payments of $5029 – or well over double what they pay now. That could rise to $6392 if they were charged the full basic fee of $3163, although that is rarely charged at present.

People earning $50,000 would pay more than 20 per cent of their incomes for home care, the UnitingCare figures show.

People living entirely on the pension, who comprise 51 per cent of those on aged care benefits, will not have to pay more than the $1800 basic fee.

The user-pays plan will impact more significantly on many part-pensioners, whose combined pension payments and independent incomes total between $30,000 and $40,000.

A government spokeswoman last night confirmed the UnitingCare figures.

Steve Teulan, director of UnitingCare Ageing for New South Wales and the ACT, said the figures would apply nationally. While the plan to boost home-care numbers was welcome, he said, the new charges raised the question of whether people would be able to afford the service, particularly those on

low incomes. Mr Teulan said he was concerned many people would tell care organisations they could not afford to pay for the services they needed. ”The amount of money we need to provide services will be reduced because we will need to accept lower fees from clients,” he said.

Mr Teulan said the proposed restructure also put greater onus on care organisations to meet the difference between the total cost and the government subsidy when people did not pay the designated charges.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard said the reforms would enable older people to get the help they needed and remain in their own homes as long as possible. The care fee component is capped at a maximum of $5000 a year for those on less than $43,000 and $10,000 for self funded retirees.

A spokeswoman for Minister for Ageing Mark Butler said the means-tested fees would represent between 16.8 per cent and 21.3 per cent of income for a person on $30,000, compared with between 6 per cent and 10.5 per cent now.

But, she said, under the more intensive home care packages available, for which the government provided a $43,000 annual subsidy, recipients would only pay up to 14 per cent of the cost of their care.

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