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Sunday, September 05, 2004

Medibank II

At last ACOSS have asked for the scrapping of the private health insurance rebate.  This is one of those recent measures by the Howard government that has now become entrenched.  How did this occur?  Cast your mind back ...... cue flashback effects:

1) If you earn over 50K and you don't have private health cover, we'll up your Medicare levy.

2) We will lock you in by a freezing of rates at your current age.  Hurry up, you don't want to have to get insurance when you're 75 and are riddled with diseases, you won't be able to afford it!

3) We will give you a rebate of 30% on your premiums.

What could provide better economies of scale than one monolithic universal health system?  Nothing!  So why have the government systematically taken money out of the public health system and given it straight to the coffers of the private sector, where to be used less efficiently?  The answer is that Howard and the Liberals are ideologically against the public health system.  Under him, it is now referred to as "the safety net".  Howard likes to trawl up the past when it suits him on matters that the government have little control over (interest rates).  But this is the man who almost single handedly privatised Medicare's forerunner Medibank because "it cost too much".  It was completely within his control.  Let me repeat that, he has once already scrapped a public health system in Australia.  And now he is doing it again.  This is real form, but everyone seems to have forgotten it.  Now the debate has shifted to, "why shouldn't private health be more affordable for everyone?" from "how come public health is is crisis?".  The "user pays" system is at its worst in the context of healthcare as it puts a price on human suffering.  I hope Julia Gillard comes out with a cracking health policy today, but you can bet that the rebate will unfortunately stay.

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