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rising costs of health care mean... « Previous | |Next »
December 30, 2005

I see that Australia's health insurance funds are pushing for another round of premium rises of up to $200 a year: This time the funds have applied for price increases beyond the 5 per cent to 7per cent hikes of recent years for some policies. The current increase is about double the inflation rate for the fifth successive year. We appear to be on an escalator of steadily rising health costs year in and year out.



The steady price increases ensure that private health insurance is becoming less attractive. They offer a limited range of services that adress wellness or healthy human functioning.

Private healh insurance is currently subsidised with a 30% tax rebate, costing taxpayers $3 billion a year. This subsidy is underwriting an uncapped and increasingly costly use of private health care. That means an increasing two tier health system doesn't it. Which is what the Howard Government wants--to shift Australians away from a public health care system that becomes a residual, stop gap system for the poor. Many in the Government want to encourage more people to take out private health insurance and not rely on state provision of health care, thus giving more scope for tax cuts. That is the neo-liberal approach to health care reform isn't it?

So where does the ever rising premium for private health insurance leave health care reform?

I cannot see much reform happening under Tony Abbott. He's done his political job as Health Minister:-- he neutralised Medicare as a election issue, and he succeeded in placing the ALP on the backfoot with its Medicare Gold proposal. Time for a new face, new energy and more reform that is different from pushing citizens into expensive private health insureance.

Will that happen in the new year cabinet reshuffle of the Howard Government?

Update: 31 Dec.
One reform pathway is to make "empowering patients to play a bigger role in choosing where and who provides them with their health service" a reality that is underpinned by the twin pillars of competition and plurality of provision. Choice in the marketplace depend on having good information and the skill of understanding and choosing between options whose probable consequences cannot be measured or even known. How do we do that?

Another reform pathway is the big turn to complimentary and alternative medicine. Women in their mid-20s to mid-40s, with higher income and education and living in the city, are the biggest users overall of alternative medicines and therapies, with most people using them to promote general good health or wellbeing.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 5:04 PM | | Comments (2)


This figure of 5% to 7% has been used for the last few rises but in reality it's more like 15% to 17%!

If we say 5-7% pa over the last 3 years then we get your figure. Does that make sense?