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BLOG: CEO grumpy about health insurance

Posted 13 April 2017

Tom Symondson's first monthly blog launches today.

Murphy’s law was probably invented by a health insurance strategist.

Fear - and, of course common sense for those who choose and can afford it - is good for business.

All of us who work in health, particularly our members at the front line, know that frequently what can go wrong, does indeed do just that.

I am aware this might sound like a first world problem for the Australians who can’t afford it but like everyone who has the luxury of health insurance, I am cheesed off by annual skyrocketing premiums. Particularly as I’m in fine fettle, it seems like an awful waste of money.

But I’m getting even more annoyed at the campaign being waged by the private insurance companies, which is aimed at discouraging their members from electing to use their private health insurance in public hospitals.

We’ve been hearing noises from the federal government they're actually considering removing the right for private funded activity in public hospitals. Clearly we’d fight that with vigour.

Making it harder for people to use their private health insurance benefits as they want - in any hospital with the doctor of their choice - undermines the entire system.

Private health insurers are already being subsidised to an incredible $6 billion a year by the Australian Government. Ironically, private health insurers generally pay more to private hospitals for an admitted patient than they pay to public hospitals.

Private hospital funding from state and territory governments has almost doubled over the past decade – and is growing faster than funding for public hospitals. There were almost five million patient treatments in public hospitals in 2014-15, and of these 14.1 per cent (815,000) were funded by private health insurers. 

It also disadvantages their rural and regional members where the public hospital is the only - or the best - option around and naturally they would prefer their own doctor where possible.

The right of privately-insured hospital patients to choose their own doctor, regardless of if it’s in a private or public hospital, is actually fundamental to our healthcare system. It’s also enshrined in law.

So while old Murphy might have been on the money about his law – it’s Aristotle who has the last word when he said way back in 300BC: “Good law is good order”.

Couldn’t have said it better myself!

 

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