Cut & Paste had a bit of fun this morning:
Is it a co-payment to a doctor or a tax? ABC1’s Q & A, Monday:
TONY Jones: This co-payment, you’ve agreed, is effectively a tax on people going to the doctor. …
Joe Hockey: Well, I don’t accept … it’s … it’s a payment. Well, you can call it a tax. You can call it whatever you want.
Jones: You called it a tax. You admitted it was a tax.
Hockey: No, I didn’t. … Given of the $7, $2 goes to the doctor, I didn’t know doctors, in that situation were receiving taxes, but your call. You want to call it a tax, you can call it anything you want. You can call it a rabbit.
Tax or rabbit? Annabel Crabb, ABC online, The Drum, Thursday:
THE Medicare co-payment might be a tax, but on the other hand it might be a rabbit.
So is a train ticket a tax? Chris Kenny tweets Tuesday:
THIS morning the Treasurer and I shall call my train ticket a tax.
The bad news is that $5 of the $7 co-payment is a tax. The definition of a tax is (emphasis added):
… a compulsory exaction of money by a public authority for public purposes, enforceable by law, and … not a payment for services rendered.
What the government have done is introduce a transactions tax on going to the doctor. Think of it like a Tobin tax – except for health services and not financial services. The express objective is to ration people out of the health system – and it seems to be working.
Update: Based on the comments in the thread I just want to clarify that I’m not opposed to the idea of “co-payments” for medical services or, indeed, any other service.Ideally health would be entirely private. I am opposed to the medical research fund. I’m also pointing out that the co-payment is a tax.