Australians would do well to learn some lessons from the SARS epidemic in China. Clearly we need an excellent health system if we are to avoid major health problems which emerging viruses might create. Unless people have a universally affordable health system then many who can’t afford to go to the doctor will put off going until their condition deteriorates. By the time people get really sick they will have spread infections to many with whom they come in contact.

The Federal Government is planning to alter the Medicare system in a way which will mean that many families, in which there is only one person employed, will have great difficulty paying for visits to the doctor. These changes to Medicare potentially constitute a real threat to everyone’s health when SARS or other infectious viruses enter this country.

Written circa 2003, but a co-charge was briefly introduced by Labor before they dumped it in the 1990s. The Liberals have tried several times since 2003 to levy a co-charge.