More than half of home care providers are charging consumers less than the maximum basic daily fee amount and 22 per cent are waiving the fee altogether, a new survey finds.
The Aged Care Financing Authority survey of 370 providers also found 17 per cent of providers were not collecting the income-tested care fee from home care package clients.
Small providers and those serving remote communities were less likely to charge the consumer fees, while for-profit services had higher than average rates of charging.
The client co-contributions were introduced in 2014 as part of the Gillard government’s Living Longer Living Better aged care reforms. Under the fee arrangements, the government’s home care package subsidy is reduced by the amount of the client’s assessed income-tested care fee.
The survey results show that many providers chose not to collect the consumer fees because they believed clients could not afford them.
However, ACFA said inconsistency in the fee charging practices of providers created inequity in consumer contributions and the government could consider making it compulsory for providers to collect the assessed income-tested care fee.
“Different consumers with the same income are paying different fees in some cases,” said the ACFA report provided to the Aged Care Legislated Review.
It was unclear if providers were absorbing the cost of the subsidy reduction, and therefore potentially impacting their viability, or waiving the fee and reducing the value of a person’s package, which was not permitted by legislation, the report said.
ACFA conducted the provider survey on home care fees for its report to the Aged Care Legislated Review, which was handed to government on Tuesday.
The financing authority said the relatively high level of consumer contribution for Level 1 packages was also likely to be contributing to the limited uptake of packages by part-pensioners and self-funded retirees.
It said the government could consider linking consumer fees to the level of package.
In 2015-16, the government reduced its package subsidies from income-tested care fees by only $13.1 million.
The data showed that the majority of home care consumers (82 per cent) were pensioners and therefore were not assessed as being able to pay an income-tested care fee.
The Federal Government is required to table the recommendations of the Aged Care Legislated Review by 14 September.
Read the ACFA report here.