Kari Bourne

Seniors: health sector needs competition reform

THE head of a seniors' lobby group has called for changes to the health sector to make medications and GP visits more affordable for older Aussies.

National Seniors' chief executive Michael O'Neill told an international conference for the Competition Policy Review of the need for more competition in the sector.

He said the competition between major grocery retailers was keeping prices down for consumers, but more should be done in the health space.

"Just as consumers are being increasingly pressed to co-contribute in the health space, competition reform needs to be applied more fully to the health sector," Mr O'Neill said.

But Mr O'Neill said consumer choice should not be the main driver in the health and aged care sectors, as people often make "decisions involving complex issues" in "times of great stress".

The comments come as the Abbott government conducts a major review of competition policy and consumer laws in an effort to improve the current legal framework.

Small Business Minister Bruce Billson, who is running the review, also addressed the conference earlier this week.

He said the review should not be a battleground for lawyers and that the imperatives should be the wider "economic and consumer benefit that drive our work and deliberations" in undertaking the review.

A public consultation on the draft report of the review finished earlier this month, with a final report yet to be released.