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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

from patient to consumer « Previous | |Next »
September 15, 2007

In Who Owns our Health? Medical Professionalism, Law and Leadership in the Age of the Market State Thomas Faunce explores the consequences for our medical profession as global health care and pharmaceutical corporations progressively implement a strategy to fully privatise health service delivery and access to medical systems in Australia. He says:

At present universal public health systems based on taxpayer-funded equality of access still have great popular support. The majority of citizens in most developed nations appear to view high tax rates as reasonable if the payback is greater security and peace of mind as they collectively age and exposed to greater risk of illness.Yet despite this widespread popular support, many governments are still producing health polices that lack any any consistent commitment to such public goods.

A major pressure on the doctor-patient relationship is the way that corporate strategists and lobbyists have facilitated the designation of patients as consumers.

'Consumer' in a market state does equate health care with purchasing commodities such as a house, food or soap powder. This market talk misses the way that illness creates vulnerability and ignores the trust that those suffering illness have in doctors to help them become well.

Peter Saunders, director of social policy for the Centre for Independent Studies, attacks the very idea of the welfare state. He says that the original welfare state operated like Robin Hood, taking money from the rich and using it to help the poor.

But the modern welfare state operates more like a giant piggy bank, taking money from ordinary people and then giving it back again. So people today pay high taxes only to get much or all of their money back as government payments and services. He says that:

we are used to a political model which makes the constant assumption that every problem can be solved by more government funding. We have to reverse that thinking. Take an area like health: what if we treated health the way we treat aged care, where we have transformed the pension system through compulsory superannuation? We could get ahead of the game on health by giving people the choice to set up personal medical savings accounts. The amount they put in is deducted from their tax bill and out of that account they fund their health care. But we don't hear about that because politicians reason that if they can give money to people, they can buy patronage. But think about it: you pay tax and the government gives you a lot of that money back in various forms of welfare payments. Why not just tax us less in the first place?

That effectively replaces taxpayer-funded universal health care with the market model where most people manage their own affairs without having to rely heavily on government to provide them with what they need.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 10:14 PM | | Comments (1)


There was some inference from Abbott tonight in the mini health debate on the 7:30 report that Labor would be raising the GST for Health.
Has that been raised in Parliament this week? I have missed it.
Apart from that I think Kerry needs to see a doctor. His breathing was very bad.