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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.
Promises to build or upgrade public hospitals are made at every state election, while other issues are ignored. Sapol Chairatkaewcharoen/Shutterstock

The real health issues facing NSW, without the spin

What happens when you bring a state health minister face-to-face with her two main challengers, fronting a roomful of health experts, without any TV cameras to leap on any "gaffes" or stumbles?
Very high GP attenders cost Medicare an average of A$3,202 in 2012-13, compared to an Australian average of A$690. Tyler Olson/Shutterstock

Time for policy rethink as frequent GP attenders account for 41% of costs

As well as being responsible for a large share of total costs, people who visit the GP more often are more likely to live in the most disadvantaged areas, and to report being in poor health.
Discussions about Medicare’s sustainability under the Abbott government have only concerned how much we spend on the health sector. AAP/Joel Carrett

Abbott redux needs to revisit ‘sustainable’ health spending

The Abbott government “reset” yesterday provides a valuable opportunity to reconsider health policies based on the idea that Australia’s health system is unsustainable. But first it will need to embrace…
Fill your boots. Fruit and veg of the unprocessed variety. Garry Knight

Food fight: is business trying to game the five-a-day system?

We are on the brink of an important change in how we are encouraged to think about our diet. Britain’s health authorities are considering whether to allow processed or “composite foods” to carry the official…
Non-concession patients may end up paying a A$30 to A$40 co-payment, not a A$5 one. Pete/Shutterstock

$5 Medicare rebate cut could cost patients up to $40 more

The Christmas-New Year silly season gave Australia three health policies. At the start of December, the policy from the 2014 budget was still on life support. But in mid-December, then-health minister…
We need a plan to provide patients with the right care at the right place in the right time. AAP/Alan Porritt

Shaping 2015: Time to go back to the drawing board on health

As the 2015 parliamentary year approaches, The Conversation is examining five key policy areas that have a new minister in charge: health, immigration, defence, social services and science. Today we begin…
Things are looking up for Queensland health in a number of areas, including the repair of a failed payroll system for health staff and increasing local management of services. AAP Image/Dan Peled

Queensland health has a better outlook, so who deserves credit?

It’s a sign of how much has changed in a few years that health has barely featured in the Queensland election campaign, despite being one of the issues that voters still say they care most about. That…
A blueprint for Medicare reform must include cost control, but also support quality and equity. Dave Hunt/AAP

New funding models are a long-term alternative to Medicare co-payments

The Abbott government is struggling with its Medicare co-payment reform, scrapping the latest version for a period of consultation, starting this week. The government claims it wants to make Medicare sustainable…
To understand public heath, you have to understand how the public lives. Commuters via STH/Shutterstock

To tackle inequalities, build health into all public policies

Many of today’s public health issues – diabetes, cancer, obesity, cardiovascular disease – are strongly associated with social inequalities. Literature from across the world shows that gaps in income…
The big losers will be ordinary patients. Image Point Fr/Shutterstock

GP co-payment 2.0: a triple whammy for patients

In the May budget, the Commonwealth government proposed a A$7 co-payment for GP services and tests done outside a hospital. After seven months of fierce criticism, the government abandoned those plans…
Responses to small price signals may be more emotional than rational, but they’re real. AAP Image/Dave Hunt

Real-life decisions: why price signals for Medicare are flawed

Amid last week’s furore over the on-again, off-again Medicare co-payment proposal, Prime Minister Tony Abbott emphasised during Question Time that his government wanted “to see price signals in the system…

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