Private health insurance

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Ancillary cover, otherwise known as ‘extras’, includes the likes of dental, physiotherapy, optical care and natural therapies. Karolina Kabat/Flickr

Should taxpayers subsidise extras for private health insurance holders?

Removing subsidies for the 50% with private health insurance is politically unpalatable. But scrapping rebates for ancillary services can be a good place to start.
Medicare exists to ensure all Australians have fair and equal access to health care regardless of risk factors. Private health insurers don’t necessarily have the same objective. AAP/Mick Tsikas

Why bother trying to make private health insurers do what Medicare does?

A new survey, which is part of a widespread government consultation on private health insurance, has caused a stir by suggesting health insurers might be able to set premiums based on health risk factors…
The government is effectively undermining the power of Medicare as a single payer and the role of Medicare as a universal provider. Peter Boyle/AAP

The debate we’re yet to have about private health insurance

In the final instalment of our series, Lesley Russell asks whether Australians need private health insurance, and what a two-tiered systems means for quality, access and equity.
High costs can keep some patients from seeing a doctor until its too late. VILevi/Shutterstock

The Affordable Care Act is another way to ration health care

The Affordable Care Act has enabled millions of previously uninsured people to obtain health insurance at reasonably low rates and has fixed some of the most vexing – and unfair – peculiarities in the…
Several private health insurers are trailing schemes to prevent their members' health deteriorating. DIBP images

Keeping people healthy is good for insurers' bottom line

Australia’s population is in the midst of considerable demographic change, with a proportional rise in older age groups. Medical successes can now save the lives of those who would have died from illnesses…
Investors who remember former floats of government entities might be excited by the prospect of a Medibank Private IPO. Dean Lewins/AAP

Medibank Private IPO: no sure thing for investors

The proposed sale of Medibank Private is not popular, but as I wrote last year, and as Finance Minister Mathias Cormann points out, it’s hard to find public policy grounds to justify ongoing public ownership…
Some insurers are testing opportunities to expand their involvement in primary care. AAP Image/Mick Tsikas

Balancing public and private as health insurers move into primary care

Prompted by the government’s Commission of Audit, health policy analysts have spent the first weeks of the year vigorously debating ways to rein in Australia’s rising health budget and to make the system…
Some registered professions are being excluded from rebates for services they can provide. Image from

Private health insurance rebates restrict consumer choice

The pre-Christmas announcement that private health insurance premiums will rise by an average of 6.2% in 2014 has raised concerns about affordability. But while consumers aren’t expected to drop their…
Countries relying on private health insurance, such as the United States, pay far more for health care. Kate Ter Haar

Six reasons why Australia needs a single national health insurer

We have come to see private health insurance as an essential part of the national health funding mix, but it’s actually quite a costly way to fund health care. A well-designed system with a single national…
There’s evidence that people in the highest socioeconomic groups are given priority for both urgent and non-urgent procedures in NSW public hospitals. Ralf Heß/Flickr

Being poor in NSW means a longer wait to get into hospital

Australia’s public health system is ostensibly based on the notion of equity of access. But research recently published by my colleagues and I shows this is not the case in New South Wales public hospitals…

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