The cost of having private health cover is becoming unaffordable, or extremely expensive at the very least, for the government and consumers alike but who’s problem is it ultimately and how is it going to get sorted out?
On the one side of things we have the increase I the cost of supplying medical care and facilities. We also have a shortage of health care providers especially specialists and medical personnel in remote areas. In some areas doctors need to be incentivised to work rurally, which also costs money. In some areas medical personnel need to be recruited from outside of the country because we simply do not have all the skills we need to be able to provide the level of care using our own graduates.
Still on “that” side we have the issue of an increasing number of people making use of medical services. Our baby boomers are ageing and, with age comes more health concerns and greater medical needs which costs more money. So far the government and the government’s critics have done a very good job of highlighting where the current system is falling short. They have identified that it is unsustainable but, as yet, have not really created a plan for taking it forward.
Which leads us to…
The plan that the government did create was to try and put a lid on the rebates it was dishing out. From the government’s budget point of view it is understandable but from the consumer’s point of view it came as something of a shock.The healthcare industry has had a somewhat mixed response with ChooseWell reporting that some providers are saying the move is bad for the industry and others saying that it is ultimately the consumer’s responsibility. And that appears to have started happening with lobby groups deciding to take the system on in order to get better rates. The intervention will be an important part of how the system decides to evolve in order to make provision for the increasing numbers of people who require medical services.What still needs to be investigated is the issue of profit margins being made by insurance companies versus the high rates that consumers are paying.
To further complicate the issue we have the matter of locals who straddle private insurance and the public system in order to make the most financially appropriate decision for their needs, which in one sense they entitled to. In the other, budgetary, sense it is not a sustainable practice and needs to be addressed. Ultimately tax payers are paying for public health. They are also paying for private cover in many instances, but their private cover is falling short.The other component in the mix are the allegations of price fixing and claims that public hospitals are increasing their rates to private insurers for members who elect to have procedures done in public hospitals.
Currently the only clear winners in the three way relationship are the insurance companies. Whether or nor the government decides to pursue the route of working with private insurers to improve the public system remains to be seen. But if the system is going to be like a business and be able to sustain itself it appears that the insurance companies do have the model for success and it has to be asked whether a collaboration would in fact be the best way forward for everyone.