Medifund to be strengthened

Medifund supported more than half a million applications from patients who needed financial aid to pay for their medical bills last year - an 8 per cent increase over the previous year.

A total of $84.4 million was given out between April 2011 and end March 2012 (FY2011), almost 5 per cent more than in FY2010.

The elderly,who qualified for Medifund Silver, set up in 2007 just for them, received the biggest boost, with a 20 per cent increase in financial help compared to the previous year.

More than 93 per cent of applicants received the full amount of financial help asked for - which paid their entire subsidised bill.

On average, inpatients received $1,295 and outpatients $103 each time they sought aid.

Children needing financial help for medical bills will have $10 million to call on from next month (March) from a fund specially set up for them, called Medifund Junior.

For this financial year (FY2012), poor patients being cared for at home, rather than in an institution, will also be eligible for Medifund help.