Australians are increasingly dipping into their superannuation to pay for medical bills as healthcare expenses soar.
Australians are increasingly dipping into their superannuation to pay for medical bills as healthcare expenses soar.

Aussies dipping into super to pay bills

AUSTRALIANS are increasingly dipping into their superannuation to pay for medical bills as healthcare expenses soar.

About 15,000 Australians last year successfully drew out a total of more than $200 million to fund medical bills,The Australian reports.

And in a concerning trend, the number of people attempting to access their retirement savings early to pay medical costs has increased fivefold over the past six years.

The number jumped from about 4000 people in 2010-11 to about 22,000 in 2016-17.

Weight-loss surgery was reportedly the top reason people took money dipped into their retirement savings, with about 8500 sleeve gastrectomies funded last financial year.

Australian Medical Association president Michael Gannon has raised concerns about the trend, saying it was undermining the superannuation system.

"We don't oppose regulations that allow the early release of superannuation on medical grounds under compassionate circumstances, but we don't think superannuation is the appropriate safety net to subsidise inadequate health funding," Dr Gannon told The Australian.

Revenue and Financial Services Minister Kelly O'Dwyer has ­ordered Treasury to examine the rules around the early release of superannuation amid growing concerns.

The Department will report back in March.

"The current rules governing early release of superannuation on financial hardship and compassionate grounds have not changed substantially in the last 20 years," Ms O'Dwyer told The Australian.

"For this reason, the government has announced it will review these rules to ensure they are fit for purpose and strike an appropriate balance between protecting people's retirement savings and giving a lifeline to those facing genuine hardship, while ensuring the rules can be administered ­fairly and effectively."

The government is also reviewing out-of-pocket medical fees.


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