The government needs to stop protecting private health insurers

The government saved private insurers, and now it needs to put them in the spotlight.

The government needs to stop protecting private health insurers

Is private health insurance a rort? YourLifeChoices members seem to think so, with the huge majority saying they pay too much for cover and get very little in return.

One positive that could be drawn is that they’re lucky they’ve not had to use it, but 75 per cent of those who do, say the insurance is not even enough to cover medical gap fees.

So, they’re paying through the nose for insurance then still having to pay too much for medical services when they need them.

Does this sound like a rort to you? Seems like the industry needs to be strapped into a chair with a harsh light shone on its face. And yet, it’s one of the industries successive governments seem at pains to protect.

When the Hawke government introduced Medicare in 1984, 54 per cent of the population had private health insurance, but the universal healthcare system meant many fund holders turned to the publicly funded system, so by 1997 that number was down to 33 per cent.

John Howard then threw private health insurers a lifeline in 1997, with the Medicare levy surcharge for everyone earning over $100,000, and again in 1999, with the 30 per cent private health insurance rebate.

And then the Howard government essentially blackmailed the public into taking out private health cover, with the introduction of ‘Life Time Health Cover’ in July 2000. This penalised people two per cent of the premium for every year over 30 they didn’t have private health cover. Unsurprisingly, the percentage of those in the private health system rose to 46 per cent, which is where it has remained since.

The Friday Flash Poll: What’s your take on private health cover? revealed that 85 per cent of the 1121 respondents have private health insurance, with 81 per cent saying they pay too much for cover – only six per cent saying they pay what they think is fair.

Health insurance premium rises have outstripped CPI for the last five years. Since 2013, the average yearly premium hike was just over five per cent. Since 2013, annual CPI increases have averaged just under two per cent.

Should this be investigated?

Early last year, the Labor party said it would limit private health insurance premium increases to two per cent, much more in line with inflation increases. But CEOs of this ‘protected’ industry screamed, with some saying such a limit was “absurd”.

Mark Fitzgibbon, chief executive of health fund nib, expressed concern that “a future government would seek to set prices in any highly competitive market.”

This is the same industry that has been saved by governments past and essentially relies on future governments to encourage the public to have private health cover.

“[It] may be politically popular but it’s an affront to how the free market operates. What next? Food, clothing, car insurance, school fees and petrol?” said Mr Fitzgibbon.

If the market were truly ‘free’ – free of government ‘incentives’, would you keep your private health insurance?

Only 15 per cent of the poll respondents, who, incidentally, are the biggest cohort of fund holders, think they get good value for what they pay, while a whopping 74 per cent believe they don’t. Of those surveyed, 57 per cent say they completely understand their insurance cover, with 43 per cent saying they don’t.

Three per cent of the poll respondents pay between $50 and $99 per month, 10 per cent pay between $100 and $149, 17 per cent pay between $150 and $199 and 55 per pay $200 or more each month. Around 33 per cent say it’s their biggest monthly expense, with 13 per cent saying it’s second on the list.

If government-mandated penalties were removed, many people would dump private health cover, especially those who say it does not deliver value for money.

And with premiums increasing at double the rate of inflation and wages growth, we can expect calls for a royal commission or at least a massive overhaul.

“There needs to be a royal commission into these health funds, I believe they would come out just as corrupt as the banks and financial institutions. They constantly, over the years, increase their fees way above the inflation rate and reduce the cover unless you pay more,” wrote YourLifeChoices member 1984.

“Health Insurance is not ‘insurance’, it is merely a method of reducing costs to the individual. The main reason for increasing cost of premiums is the avaricious medical providers who charge extortionate fees and costs. A royal commission should be held into medical provider fees. Although I believe they should be ‘nationalised’, wrote Huskie.

It’s the government who has saved the private health industry and it’s the government that needs to take action to make the system fairer. Not for the industry but for the people it’s supposed to protect. Currently, it seems the system is lopsided. If our member comments are any indication, the private health industry should start watching its back.

Would you dump your policy if the government-mandated penalties were dropped? Do you think health insurance is a rort?

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    COMMENTS

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    Ted Wards
    4th Feb 2019
    10:17am
    The trouble is we don't take the preventative view and we pay for it with poor health. I very rarely go to the doctors so don't need health insurance.
    Oldchick
    4th Feb 2019
    11:06am
    I’m happy for you Ted. You obviously have a very good genetic base to help you in your quest of staying healthy. I have a friend who watches his diet with passion, exercises every day, grows much of his own food yet has had 2 heart attacks and spent considerable time in hospital with that. He almost died as well when he had appendicitis and developed blood clots in his lungs as a secondary complication. His wife similarly eats healthy, exercises as much as she is able and yet has been into hospital about 6 times in two years for nerve block injections in her back, knee operations, etc. Their M.I. Has been invaluable.
    SuziJ
    4th Feb 2019
    11:25am
    It's not just the doctors or hospitals.

    It's extras like dental, physio, chiro, natural therapies, too. That's the only reason I have any cover - I couldn't afford my 'extras' bills if I didn't have my cover. which has saved me thousands of dollars just to keep me 'going'.
    Oldchick
    4th Feb 2019
    10:57am
    I pay for Private Medical because I’ve been in a situation where if my Mother hadn’t had it she most definitely would have lost at least one leg and probably her life. We had a car accident and one leg in particular was crushed. Without P.M. insurance the hospital said they couldn’t call in a top ortho surgeon, she would have to have the registrar. The bills were horrendous, 3 1/2 months in hospital/rehab but we didn’t pay anything, the P.M. did. Besides, if I need a knee or hip replacement, quite possible, I don’t want to go on a waiting list for 2 years or more. However the cost is inhibitive, particularly on a Pension. It’s so true that the Providers have much to answer for. 10 min consultation $150+ thanks. I saw a Neurologist in Melbourne and his consultant fee was almost $550 and left me out of pocket by about $300. He did nothing - except treat me like an imbecile and told me nothing I didn’t already know about my condition, after travelling 300km from country Victoria to see him. That is just pure greed and should be regulated far better than it is. P.M. is like most Insurance, I think you’re damned if you have it in $ terms but much worse off if you don’t and need to use it.
    SuziJ
    4th Feb 2019
    11:35am
    If you've been in hospital due to a car accident, then that's what Compulsory Third Party insurance is for! Just because you have private insurance, they won't cover you if you can recoup the costs from another source.

    I understand that the inusrance claim could take quite some time, but I've actually worked for a Private Health insurer and they take any claims against them that can be recouped from another source very seriously and can reject a claim. If they did pay the claim, in the end, you'd have to repay the insurer for the costs they paid to the hospital, etc or you could find yourself at the wrong end of a legal suit to recover the costs.

    BTW I was on a public waiting list in 2011 for Bi-Lateral Total Knee Replacements which could take up to 12 months. But due to rapid degeneration it was brought up the list and I was in hospital within 6 weeks of the incident. I didn't have to pay one cent.
    Oldchick
    4th Feb 2019
    3:09pm
    SuziJ We weren’t able to claim from a Third Party Insurance for Mum’s injuries because she was driving and technically in the wrong. We were turning right and another car came out from a side street on the left straight into us. The other driver couldn’t see properly because there were cars parked by the corner and we couldn’t see her, but we were already halfway around when she hit us side on. Third party is just that, it covers the other party/parties. Our medical insurance investigated the position and were agreeable to paying the bills. Yes, I could claim my medical bills on Third Party Insurance
    My extras cover has paid out heaps and saved me too.
    ray from Bondi
    4th Feb 2019
    7:04pm
    you did not pay anything, my wife has to have cover for similar reasons though a different complaint, when she had an operation every entity involved sent me invoices and I had to pay and pay, myself I had a heart operation eventually as I kept being thrown out I suppose for private health patients, but when it was finally done I had nothing to do other than get better the costs were completely transparent, so not only are we paying for a substandard product but the work after is a nightmare. I know I am going to receive many right wing comments to the effect that if I can not pay I do not deserve treatment, that is the way our society is going.
    Reason
    4th Feb 2019
    11:04am
    Private health insurance saves the government money when a person chooses to exercise their right of choice re a surgeon in that the hospital costs are generally paid for by the fund. However, in the private hospital system not all expenses associated with an operation are covered and this is indeed unjust when a person going into the public system has all their costs covered. Also the gap between what Medicare and the fund will cover the medical costs is often in the thousands. A recent knee replacement had an out of pocket expense of approximately $5000. Th only advantage that I can see for the individual is that if there is a need, such as replacement hip, then you can have it done within weeks rather than being on a public hospital waiting list of twelve months or more and then that is only after the public system has decided that you are in enough pain to warrant the operation. In order for the private system to be a value service the government needs to either cap what surgeons can charge for an operation procedure and/or make the funds cover the full cost or at least limit the gap fee to no more than $500.
    maxchugg
    5th Feb 2019
    11:02am
    Do you really choose your own surgeon?

    The process is usually that you have a problem, see your GP who refers you to a specialist if necessary. When you have seen the specialist, before you are presented with an enormous bill for the first consultation, you are told that the specialist only operates in private hospitals and much prefers to deal only with insured patients.

    So you have two choices. You either join the queue for admission in a public hospital or, if insured, proceed with the surgeon you have "chosen" in the private hospital he has nominated. Later you will receive a succession of financial blows as bill after bill arrives for all manner of expenses you have not anticipated, including medications, gap payments for surgical assistants you neither saw nor knew about, and so on.

    Private insurance definitely saves the government money, so the hostility towards the government providing a rebate for premiums paid by members of health funds is ill founded. However, the health insurance industry, with its lemming-like attitude is slowly committing suicide as the firmly established practice of premiums escalating at around twice the CPI means that insurance eventually becomes unaffordable for all but the extremely wealthy.

    Equity would require that those who have had health insurance all their working lives and saved the government a small fortune, that when that person reaches retirement age, subject to a reasonable means test, the government should give a 100% rebate on premiums. Jealousy is restricting and attacking the small rebate that is currently available.
    invisible sock
    4th Feb 2019
    11:05am
    Is it possible that the insured are paying more, for the same procedure, than the uninsured?
    Reason
    4th Feb 2019
    11:13am
    It would seem that they are for as I understand it the only fee the surgeon is going to receive from the public system is the medicare rate which is incredibly below the costs surgeons etc charge.
    TREBOR
    4th Feb 2019
    1:11pm
    Stories I've heard are that the only advantage is being pushed up the line - forget the Hippocratic Oath etc - but that extras are the biggest cost. Neighbour had the surgeon etc covered, but had to pay for anaesthetist... so he said anyway. Still cost him $1100 out of pocket after paying for private...

    How do funds work that out, especially with all the government subsidy?

    Ditch the lot, take the hit on unemployed workers in funds, and put it all back to public.. that way genuine triage comes into play and not economic triage...

    Also, I cannot, for the life of me, see how a surgeon, who fixes his own price, gets paid more or less by taking on private fund patients first...

    I'm fortunate in getting most things for free including specialists... but many do not...

    Too much fandango in the system - just like everything else that governments have touched with their golden fingertips.... funny how the mantra of the 'right' is that government shouldn't be involved in business - yet business puts its hand out to government every day. Then the same 'right' thinkers imagine that market forces prevail (in their favour) and that 'socialism' is evil, while holding both hands out for 'socialism' at every turn.
    maxchugg
    5th Feb 2019
    11:16am
    Trebor, you are right.

    As indicated in a separate comment, I was sent to a specialist who required me to be treated in a private hospital. I received prompt, effective surgery, but was simply staggered by the number of bills which arrived in the post, particularly gap fees from people of whom, up to that point, I had been completely unaware.

    On the other side of the ledger, I was advised to have cataract surgery to assist with a battle against glaucoma. In the space of three months, cataract surgery was performed on both eyes. A friend, who had maintained health insurance for his entire working life but forced to drop out upon becoming a pensioner also urgently needed the same surgery. He waited three years before the first eye was treated, then another two years for the second. He thought that they were trying to save money by waiting for him to die, I suggested he take a trip to a third world country where they apparently do the surgery for around $100.
    4b2
    4th Feb 2019
    11:30am
    Another protection racket by the Libs for the big end of town. Get back to Medicare with the scheduled fee and 75% coverage. The current system is unsustainable and unfair. Why do private patients have the privilege to jump the queue in public hospitals. Public hospitals should be covered by Medicare and not used for private finance collection.
    invisible sock
    4th Feb 2019
    11:49am
    Waiting lists can be used as a political tool, to embarrass the Government, only when an election is due.
    Other than that you're on your own.
    I think that it is patently obvious that the insured are being slugged more & more as an
    additional subsidy for medicare.
    TREBOR
    4th Feb 2019
    1:15pm
    And yet private is heavily subsidised to the tune of billions - so you are saying that this is a case of giving with one hand and taking with the other?
    ray from Bondi
    4th Feb 2019
    7:06pm
    invisible sock, you are so right that is why the states have a share and the feds have a share so the blame can be chucked around like a hot potato and nothing really done.
    TREBOR
    5th Feb 2019
    1:06am
    So,logically, Invisible, someone who is being rorted is a fool to continue to pay, knowing in advance that many costs will not be covered?

    Just one question - if all critical cases are dealt with on an immediate basis..... and all others went onto a waiting list............. why would you pay to move up the list, knowing that you are causing needless pain and hardship to others... and then pay for all the 'extras' as well?

    What real difference does it make to wait a little while for something the doctors all reckon people can get by with? The only difference is you are paying through the nose for a slightly sooner spot.....

    You can take a fool to a cliff.. but you can't make him not fall over it....
    Old Geezer
    4th Feb 2019
    11:32am
    Money would be spent on helping people keep private health insurance than throwing money down the drain in public hospitals where so much is wasted.
    TREBOR
    4th Feb 2019
    1:16pm
    Money would be better spent on upgrading the public hospitals rather than throwing it down the drain to subsidise private health insurance.
    Anonymous
    4th Feb 2019
    1:39pm
    Correct OldGeezer

    Just ignore the ramblings of Trebor the resident village idiot
    Old Geezer
    4th Feb 2019
    2:24pm
    Goodness no Trebor.
    TREBOR
    4th Feb 2019
    2:35pm
    A 'village idiot' who bests you every time, Loathie...

    Pay your own way .... no subsidies for you anti-socialist lot..... just opt out of subsidies down at your health care fund... tell them you don't want to be part of 'socialised medicine'...
    Anonymous
    4th Feb 2019
    4:32pm
    Well said, TREBOR. The Lieberal trolls haven't got a clue.
    Anonymous
    4th Feb 2019
    4:36pm
    poor delusional Trebor
    posting stupid responses to my comments to you means "besting"

    your comments are laughable and quite pathetic really . ROFLMAO
    TREBOR
    4th Feb 2019
    5:48pm
    You really need to use your private cover for some psychiatric help, Lothario... you are in a very bad way.
    ray from Bondi
    4th Feb 2019
    7:08pm
    old geezer hi again, and where does the money come for the rebates from the public hospital system, that is why it has been run down, the health system should survive or not by its own merit just the same as all the other industries closed and now overseas. what a protected species.
    maxchugg
    5th Feb 2019
    11:28am
    Trebor, previously I agreed with you , here I don't.

    If someone has maintained health insurance for his/her working life and saved the government a fortune in the process, It would not be unreasonable to expect the government to give a 100% rebate, subject to a reasonable means test.

    In anticipation, the cost is unlikely to be as high as the savings that have flowed to the government during the working life of those who get the full rebate. And costs could be reduced if the government took a more pro-active approach to the problem of exorbitant fees charged by some specialists. You can't control the fees of these people by legislation, but you can through the laws of supply and demand, just increase the number of doctors in the workforce.
    TREBOR
    5th Feb 2019
    7:02pm
    Nah, max - I'm just throwing back at Loathario the real outcome from his posturing... he says everyone should have private or nothing, then reneges down the page a bit - if he is so convinced that private is the only way to go, he should renounce all subsidies out of the socialist pocket.... as too bloody leftist for him and his 'better' kind.

    That's the point of my arguing with the village idiot... they simply can't have it both ways at whim.

    I happen to agree with you max, but Loathie has set the parameters of discussion by ranting about his vaunted totally private system (DUH), and deserves to be held to his totally private approach without any concessions.
    Paddington
    4th Feb 2019
    11:33am
    Americans pay a lot more than Australians and get a far worse deal with out of pocket expenses. They don’t even know upfront what will be covered.
    KB
    4th Feb 2019
    2:07pm
    Very true Paddington. Even ambulance cover is exorbitant.
    Not a Bludger
    4th Feb 2019
    11:45am
    Private Health is essential and should be compulsory - that would drive premiums significantly down.
    And, Howard did not blackmail the public as you assert but did make a useful change so as to keep membership up and hence premiums down.
    This article is, frightingly, yet another leftie moan & groan aimed at destroying a very good (as I can personally attest having had a double bypass under the private system with no out of pocket medical fees) health insurance system - one of the best in the world.
    Put another way, just another aspect of the politics of envy.
    Triss
    4th Feb 2019
    12:48pm
    It's not another moan and groan, NaB, it is a genuine complaint. There is a section of medical areas where practitioners are charging well over the top, just because they can, and they need to be reined in.
    Not a Bludger
    4th Feb 2019
    1:01pm
    Not in my experience, Triss nor that of my friends and family.
    As always, one gets what one pays for - and, as is so common these days, some want to pay a pittance or nothing and then moan and groan and claim discrimination when they actually get what they paid for.
    Paddington
    4th Feb 2019
    1:33pm
    Agree to an extent but no need for the envy comment because a mixture of people have private health insurance. Many wealthy people only use the free hospitals whereas some pensioners and low income people prioritise private cover up there with their food bill.
    People who have multiple cars and homes decide not to pay for it so it is not the poor envying the rich at all.
    A fairer system needs to be devised for sure to make health care more accessible no matter where you live.
    TREBOR
    4th Feb 2019
    1:36pm
    You want private? Pay for it .. the public system is for all equally.. that's theoretically why your 'private' health fund is heavily subsidised with money that would be better spent upgrading hospitals for all, rather than propping up people who are happy to be fleeced by their fund while clogging up the health system.
    MITZY
    4th Feb 2019
    1:52pm
    NaB: My cousin had a double bypass two years ago. Wasn't feeling very well and dr. sent her for the nuclear medicine stress test. I took her on the Monday for the test, I then took her to the doctor on the Wednesday to discuss the results and within a few minutes of discussing her poor condition we were on our way to the local hospital. They wouldn't allow her to go home and the following morning, Thursday, she went to Canberra hospital by ambulance and was operated on (6.1/2 hours operation) the next day Friday. She has no health insurance was looked after with the very best of care and without delay. I think a lot of people would disagree that "Private Health is essential and should be compulsory". Private is private and it doesn't seem to matter what type of "private" it is, i.e. look at the electricity prices! Privatisation rarely results in prices going down! If you are lucky enough to afford the top cover and pay nothing, that's great, but you are still paying your monthly insurance which is costly and there are many in this world that putting food on the table and paying the electricity bill and their mortgage or their rent to keep a roof over their head doesn't allow them to entertain the idea of health insurance. Many of these people are not bludgers either.
    Anonymous
    4th Feb 2019
    4:36pm
    Private health cover compulsory? To hell with that! The working poor and pensioners (particularly disability pensioners) could never afford it. DUMB IDEA, from another Lieberal troll. (Rightards aren't very bright, are they.)
    TREBOR
    4th Feb 2019
    5:49pm
    Lothario is a troll, KAL - OG just lives down a well and thinks that everything in life is what he see around himself....
    ray from Bondi
    4th Feb 2019
    7:11pm
    we already have compulsory health payments to support the private health, not public hospitals, where does the tax money go I wonder when I see public health is such poor health.
    TREBOR
    5th Feb 2019
    12:46am
    New football fields when we have roads killing people....

    I travel The Lakes Way a lot, and it is appalling for the traffic it carries....amazing that there were no cars running off the roads etc this holiday season, quite a change... don't have to stop and check there is nobody inside....

    I'm sick of this ex-Army medic stuff.... always first to go in and check....
    Daz
    4th Feb 2019
    11:47am
    Last year my health Insurance premium increased 13.9%. I received a call from my health Insurer last week to inform me the premium increase for this year would be 7.5% as from April 1st. Ostensibly increasing over 21% in twelve months. I didn't know that increases for 2019 had been approved by the Health Minister at this point in time. What a rort the whole system is.
    Anonymous
    4th Feb 2019
    4:37pm
    A rort supported by the Lieberal scumbag government.
    ray from Bondi
    4th Feb 2019
    7:12pm
    know-a-lot, here you are so right, sadly labor also has its finger in the pie.
    maxchugg
    5th Feb 2019
    11:34am
    I said it before and I'm saying it again. The private health insurance industry has a lemming-like mentality and is slowly committing suicide. Every time premiums rise faster than the CPI, many thousands are simply forced out.
    MITZY
    4th Feb 2019
    12:07pm
    This is quite interesting:
    https://nordic.business.com/the-16-countries-with-the-worlds-best-healthcare-systems-2017-1/
    TREBOR
    4th Feb 2019
    12:41pm
    Where there is subsidy, there is an implied duty to regulate and oversee....

    My view, of course, is that 'private health' should be outside of government cash, and that it should hold no special place in the use of operating etc facilities.... you pay you get... maybe if the subsidies were cut down and eventually eliminated, the vultures who masquerade as doctors these days will work out they are not Gods decreeing the price of gold...
    Triss
    4th Feb 2019
    12:54pm
    You're right, Trebor, government type subsidies seem to give complete freedom to jack up prices.
    TREBOR
    4th Feb 2019
    6:19pm
    Yes, such SOCIALIST things as first home buyers, subsidised childcare, paid parental leave, subsidies for health coverage, subsidies to business etc, always serve not to control prices, but to jack them up.

    And the privatisation of services always costs far more than the public approach, and rarely, if ever, approaches it for efficiency. A component of efficiency in providing a service is price for that service and nowhere does privatisation cost less or provide a better service.
    maxchugg
    5th Feb 2019
    11:48am
    Trebor, I received an exorbitant bill from a specialist. With the bill came a note saying that the Medicare scheduled fee was, maybe $75, the scheduled fee according to his union, was maybe, $200 (proportion is right, figures not). I suppose, with your apparent leftist leanings, you would be happy to see unions set fees and this comment would be less annoying to you than it was to me.

    As we are now in a position where even GPs are closing their books to new patients, isn't it time to inject more competition into the system by increasing the number of doctors? When we have gone too far it will become obvious because we will see ads on TV which go along the line "Do you have a sore toe? If so, call Dr. Bloggs on 12345678 now. He makes house calls and bulk bills."
    TREBOR
    5th Feb 2019
    7:06pm
    You totally misread me, max - I was criticising the doctor's union for its blatant fee-setting racket. How would you arrive at a position that I wanted unions to set fees? Although - when you think it through - if it's all right for the doctor's union, it's all right for everyone else, surely? I mean - the boss' unions set their fees, right?

    My 'leanings' are definitely in the middle - depending on the issue.
    maxchugg
    6th Feb 2019
    12:26pm
    Trebor, it seems that I have misread you a couple of times and I apologise for that.

    I think it is obvious to everyone except perhaps the AMA that there is a chronic shortage of doctors in Australia. As I mentioned elsewhere, I recall a time when we were being told that there were too many doctors, whether that is still the view of the doctor's union or not I don't know.
    floss
    4th Feb 2019
    1:09pm
    They are just like the banks really .If this government had one ounce of guts it would leave the Royal Commission in place and do the lot,but as the P.M.said we do not need a Royal Commission, what a clown.
    Anonymous
    4th Feb 2019
    4:39pm
    Soon to be ex-PM.

    4th Feb 2019
    1:41pm
    Private cover is expensive because the government wastes billions on inefficient socialized medicine
    TREBOR
    4th Feb 2019
    2:33pm
    Public healthcare is inefficient because government wastes billions on useless private cover subsidies.

    $6.5Bn in 2016 would be far better utilised upgrading the hospitals etc for the benefit of all, including those on private elf...
    TREBOR
    4th Feb 2019
    6:10pm
    Easy meat, as usual..... ROFLMFAO
    Anonymous
    4th Feb 2019
    9:13pm
    You’re too dumb to realize if we had Zero socialized medicine , private medicine would cost the economy a lot less and in fact be providing HUGE foreign income, investment and employment opportunities for hundreds of thousands of Aussies
    ray from Bondi
    4th Feb 2019
    9:36pm
    and the poor would be left to die in the gutter through lack of medication and hospitalization, well we can see where your loyalties lie.
    Anonymous
    4th Feb 2019
    9:50pm
    Ray - that’s a stupid emotional argument
    A well managed capitalist system will always provide for the disadvantaged
    And there would be a lot less of your so called “poor” than under a socialized system forced upon us by leaner voters
    The general public have succumbed to the cheap instant gratification sold to it by labor idiots
    TREBOR
    5th Feb 2019
    12:51am
    Give us your figures, Loathie.... they will truly be a wonder to behold......

    You are a real dreamer, son... where are the benefits so far from anything that has been fully privatised? And you beloved private health system is propped up by tax dollars... get a life.

    If we had zero privatised medicine and truly socialised medicine, where doctors get a salary, the system would run better than any fully private one. Privatise it and costs will get out of control and many will not receive treatment, just like in the US. Can't you read or see?

    Truly you are the village idiot...... you're like that Indian d1ck who imagines that total free market forces is the best outcome for everything... ROFLMFAO.... sure - for the robber barons...
    TREBOR
    4th Feb 2019
    2:28pm
    http://theconversation.com/the-multi-billion-dollar-subsidy-for-private-health-insurance-isnt-worth-it-76446

    "

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    Almost 20 years after the 30% subsidy for private health insurance was introduced, premiums continue to rise every year. This comes at a cost to the federal budget – which was forecast at A$6.5 billion in the 2016 federal budget from the subsidy alone.

    Meanwhile, consumers continue to view private health insurance as poor value for money. It would be sensible for the government to face evidence the subsidy is bad and costly policy, as health bureaucrats and commentators predicted long ago.
    Why was private cover subsidised?

    The 30% subsidy for private health insurance premiums was introduced in 1999, driven more by media coverage than evidence. Following Medicare’s introduction in 1984, private health coverage had fallen from about 50% of the population in 1985 to just more than 30% in 1998.

    The media portrayed this decline as a death spiral that would put unbearable pressure on public hospitals. The public system would no longer be sustainable, the narrative went, as healthy people dropped their private insurance while a pool of sick older individuals with high hospital needs flooded the system.

    Evidence for this narrative was flimsy at best, and largely anecdotal. Later analysis demonstrated the insured population was actually a healthier (and richer) subgroup. So, healthier people were maintaining cover, while sicker individuals still relied on the public hospital system.

    Yet health ministers under both Labor and Liberal governments became champions of the policy to subsidise private cover. Michael Wooldridge, as health minister in the Howard government between 1996 and 2000, introduced a 30% premium subsidy to those already insured and new entrants.

    The subsidy was accompanied by a Medicare Levy Surcharge of 1% of taxable income for higher-income earners (singles with income above A$50,000 and couples above A$100,000) without private cover.



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    Almost 20 years after the 30% subsidy for private health insurance was introduced, premiums continue to rise every year. This comes at a cost to the federal budget – which was forecast at A$6.5 billion in the 2016 federal budget from the subsidy alone.

    Meanwhile, consumers continue to view private health insurance as poor value for money. It would be sensible for the government to face evidence the subsidy is bad and costly policy, as health bureaucrats and commentators predicted long ago.
    Why was private cover subsidised?

    The 30% subsidy for private health insurance premiums was introduced in 1999, driven more by media coverage than evidence. Following Medicare’s introduction in 1984, private health coverage had fallen from about 50% of the population in 1985 to just more than 30% in 1998.
    The percentage of population covered by private health insurance has fallen since the introduction of Medicare. Australian Prudential Regulation Authority

    The media portrayed this decline as a death spiral that would put unbearable pressure on public hospitals. The public system would no longer be sustainable, the narrative went, as healthy people dropped their private insurance while a pool of sick older individuals with high hospital needs flooded the system.

    Evidence for this narrative was flimsy at best, and largely anecdotal. Later analysis demonstrated the insured population was actually a healthier (and richer) subgroup. So, healthier people were maintaining cover, while sicker individuals still relied on the public hospital system.

    Yet health ministers under both Labor and Liberal governments became champions of the policy to subsidise private cover. Michael Wooldridge, as health minister in the Howard government between 1996 and 2000, introduced a 30% premium subsidy to those already insured and new entrants.

    The subsidy was accompanied by a Medicare Levy Surcharge of 1% of taxable income for higher-income earners (singles with income above A$50,000 and couples above A$100,000) without private cover.

    Did premiums fall?

    When evidence on private cover emerged, it revealed that the 30% subsidy had a negligible impact on declining levels of coverage. Around 70% of the population preferred to rely on the public system.

    Yet the government didn’t question the subsidy, which was already costing A$2.1 billion in 2000-01. Instead it further propped up the private health sector by introducing the lifetime health cover (LHC) policy in 2001.

    This was a financial loading that increased by 2% for each year the cover owner was older than 30. It was payable in addition to the base rate premium for any private health insurance hospital cover. Those who purchased before the strict deadline of July 1 avoided the age loading irrespective of their age at entry. After the deadline, only those aged 30 or younger could avoid the loading.

    Again the media had a major role. The government funded an advertising blitz across print and electronic media – the Run for Cover campaign – in the lead-up to the deadline in July 2000.

    Just days before the deadline, private insurance coverage jumped from 30% to about 45% of the population. Subsequent evidence demonstrated the 50% increase was driven by the scare campaign, not the premiums.

    Wooldridge was confident there would be downward pressure on premiums because, under LHC, the pool of insured people were younger, healthier and less likely to make claims on their insurance. "
    TREBOR
    4th Feb 2019
    2:30pm
    Anyway - there's more the meat is that:-

    a) subsidies went up - 30% and $6.5Bn in 2016 budget.

    b) Fees did not fall.

    c) Surgery waiting lists did not change.
    Reason
    4th Feb 2019
    2:57pm
    The fact that you overlook in what you say is that both brands of governments realised that if they did away with private hospital services the public hospital system could not handle the case load and that all the money that private funds pay for services would have to be paid for by the government blowing out the health budget quite considerably. Keep private insurance and private hospitals but regulate the fees charged by the various medical services involved. However, not even Labour are prepared to do that.
    TREBOR
    4th Feb 2019
    5:54pm
    How would the case load vary, Reason? 'Surgery waiting lists did not change'.

    Private hospitals are not the issue - private cover is... and both private and public patients get to use the public system as well as the private... in fact, the use of the public system by private patients renders the public system nothing but a cash cow and abuses the Hippocratic Oath, and most certainly does not offer equal treatment based on need.

    Let the private patients use the private hospitals exclusively, and then see how they travel for costs.

    The actual case load would not vary at all without a major catastrophe or major outbreak of serious illness...

    Many have tried to regulate the doctor's union and the medical services suppliers.... you are welcome to have a try at telling doctors what to charge.
    ray from Bondi
    4th Feb 2019
    9:41pm
    I was thrown out of the hospital while waiting for life-saving surgery many times by what I think were private patients it was never explained to me why I had to wait and wait and travel back and forth, I would be waiting a day in bed then told to go home all the while quickly deteriorating, all I can think of is the cash cow wins.
    TREBOR
    5th Feb 2019
    1:15am
    I'm appalled, Ray... my ex was put off time and again for an 'optional' hip replacement (I won't be going there, let me tell you) to suit doctors who got more dollars from private patients subsidised by your tax dollars and used theatres built by your tax dollars... AND life-saving and emergency always got top priority anyway.

    You should report the surgeon who kept making you wait for life-saving surgery... from what you've posted it was heart problems...

    Tell me - did he have an Australian name or some funny one? Celtic/Gaels are the best.. raised in a society that cares for its own and each other.... (we're not like the Poms and their Frankenstinian creatures) ..... we're HUMAN and not driven by dollars like sociopaths are....
    dijidoo
    4th Feb 2019
    2:39pm
    4b2 Private patients are not able to jump the queue on the waitlist in public hospitals. No matter whether a private or public patient they are still categorised and waitlisted according to their urgency. If you do hear of a private patient jumping the queue then you have every right to complain loudly, because from my understanding it is a big no no.
    TREBOR
    4th Feb 2019
    6:03pm
    No, no - ONLY the very urgent cases do not suffer queue jumpers - anything considered 'optional' or 'discretionary' is subject to queue jumping.

    Life-threatening issues such as hearts etc are handled on a needs basis - most everything else is not, and most surgery is carried on in the public system, with doctors 'hiring' the operating theatres etc and paying a fee and then charging the private patient through fund + top-up gap, and public patients from the government.

    You will find, at the bottom, that the real fault lies with such a system and with the greed of some medical practicioners, who care not one jot for the pain a patient may be in for a 'discretionary' 'optional' procedure.

    Economic Triage:-

    Category 1) :- The patient whose wallet is adequate to cover the cost of immediate care at any cost.

    Category 2):- The patient whose wallet is adequate to cover some of the cost of treatment, but not right now (short list)

    Category 3):- The patient whose wallet will not cover cost of treatment and who must perforce wait indefinitely...(bottom liner – often of a coffin)...
    TREBOR
    4th Feb 2019
    2:46pm
    There's some bright golden staph in his op wound,
    There's some bright golden staph in his op wound,
    His pulse is as weak,
    As a dried up old creek,
    And I think that his heart valves
    Are starting to leak...

    Oh, what a bad operation,
    Oh, what a terrible bind,
    We'll have to rush him right back in,
    Dig in and see what we find....


    Has somebody taken my scissors?
    Has somebody taken my scissors?
    I know they were here,
    When we did him last year,
    So why are they missing,
    Oops, look - they're right here....

    Oh, what a bad operation,
    Oh, what a terrible blue,
    Even with his private health fund,
    Looks like he didn't pull through......
    B5YCK
    4th Feb 2019
    3:53pm
    Oh, you lefties!
    If it was not for the private health fund, I would have been bankrupt by now.
    It is in your older years when we are in the "waiting room" that private health funds come to your aid.
    You do not have to go on a waiting list with medicare, can choose your own doctor, have if need be a private room in hospital etc. I can honestly say that I have received more than I ever paid in. And that is the luck of the draw. How many people pay extreme amounts of money for car insurance and never have an accident? Should the car insurers be investigated? Admittedly you receive a no claim bonus, but you still have to pay up a lot of money for it.
    Anonymous
    4th Feb 2019
    4:41pm
    Don't blame "lefties" for the greed of medical professionals, who would have bankrupted you.
    TREBOR
    4th Feb 2019
    6:04pm
    Your anecdote is noted B5YCK.... god luck with it.....

    I assume you consider yourself a 'rightie'? Why?
    TREBOR
    4th Feb 2019
    6:08pm
    You DO accept socialised subsidy for your healthcare, don't you, and funding to private hospitals out of the socialised public purse? Or do you prefer to do without the subsidy you get?

    Bizarre lack of thinking in some.....
    ray from Bondi
    4th Feb 2019
    10:11pm
    leftie, liberal mindless rhetoric at its best
    TREBOR
    5th Feb 2019
    12:59am
    I know - let's put all the doctors on salary from the state and have fully socialised medicine.... that would solve all the arguments..... and stabilise all the payments...

    I'm certain the salary range would be excellent... what more could they need?

    Perhaps the biggest problem in the health system is that doctors are forced to run as a business... they ARE privatised already.... and that forces them to make up their outgoings from earnings, raising costs....

    On salary and in State surgeries.... no problem...... all staff and goods paid for out of public funding.....

    Something's gotta give sometime...

    4th Feb 2019
    4:27pm
    Leon explains how it was the government that saved private health insurers and it is their responsibility to prevent the public being continually rorted."

    Just what one would expect of the Lieberal Party vermin, protecting their rich mates.
    Anonymous
    4th Feb 2019
    4:32pm
    how is the public being rorted?
    don't want private cover, don't buy it
    quite simple really
    Anonymous
    4th Feb 2019
    4:43pm
    I don't. But the public who use private cover ARE being rorted by ever-increasing premiums (driven by the greed of insurance companies and medical specialists).
    TREBOR
    4th Feb 2019
    6:06pm
    But Loathie, my son - you and OG said everyone should have it or nothing...

    Hypocrite (owned again, son) .... do you even remember what you posted a short time ago? There's help available for that kind of thing, you know... the hardest part for your type is admitting you need help....
    TREBOR
    4th Feb 2019
    6:49pm
    ...and if the subsidy was removed, and the funds forced to operate on pure market forces, along with the doctors involved (and every other business, BTW) - a 'rightist's dream eh, Loathie? OG? - the prices would either go down or so high the funds were unsustainable... and we would be left with none or only those that can provide the service....

    That's the reason for this issue being discussed... and for arguing over private health subsidies.. (bloody socialist idea anyway - eh, Loathie? Only a 'leftie' could come up with that one..... you're laugh a minute son... one has to wonder what words fell from your golden mouth when you were three months old and dribbling mother's milk through no teeth... we need more of your kind so the rest of us can see sanity readily.. and insanity such as yours).

    BTW - do you have an IQ of 186? Your peculiar form of insanity rings a bell..... hven't I seen you somewhere before?
    ray from Bondi
    4th Feb 2019
    6:59pm
    I have said on facebook many times that this is the greatest furphy pushed down our aching throats by the libs and with the consent of labor, it seems there are only 2 protected species, politicians and the private health, I would have said banks also but we can see how the liberal promises played out there. I will say again what I have said many times, the money for private health rebates comes from the public health sector in its entirety, why do you think hospitals are run down and overcrowded and understaffed.
    GeorgeM
    5th Feb 2019
    4:45pm
    The bottom line is a Royal Commission is needed now urgently - as Private Health Insurance is NOT an Insurance scheme, only paying part of costs back as benefits, and is a crooked scheme to make Medical Providers and the company CEOs rich while ripping off the customers - all with the assistance of funding from the Federal Govt, i.e. taxpayers money!
    Caky
    5th Feb 2019
    5:57pm
    My husband had Prostrate Cancer about 5 years ago we have private Health Insurance but he was operated on in a private Hospital. We had to pay $15,000 up front before they operated isn't his a bit greedy by the Surgeon?Then there were cost for the Anesthist plus meds they gave him while in Hospital. He was only in the Hospital 3 days. I remember when I first joined Private Health as a young person you got all your expenses paid by your Private Health
    TREBOR
    5th Feb 2019
    7:08pm
    Clearly a rort, Caky - sorry to hear your story and the best to your husband.

    16th Feb 2019
    9:35am
    Why is it that we Australians pay so much and have to wait so long for medical treatment when refugees get priority and pay nothing.the latest medivac passed by labor is a very good example of this and we can expect more of this if Labor wins at the next election.l have been waiting more than 12months just to get an appointment and these refugees get in straight away just not right. Thank you Phelps and labour for making us victims of the system


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