British conservatives should beware of Australian health service reforms

February 10, 2005

Australia is held up as a model of how to increase use of private health care in the United Kingdom. But experts in this week's BMJ warn that the effects of its reforms are not all beneficial and ask what can British and European conservatives learn from an Australian colleague who has deliberately sought to enhance the role of the private sector?

The Australian prime minister, John Howard, has engineered a major expansion of private health insurance alongside a universal, publicly funded health system. Various incentives and penalties have driven coverage up from 30% to 45% of the population, but the strategy of subsidising insurance premiums has been expensive and primarily benefited the wealthy.

Admissions to private hospitals have increased, but admissions to public hospitals have also increased, suggesting that the private insurance subsidies do not seem to have reduced pressure on Australian public hospitals as forecast by the government. This has led commentators to ask whether the funds injected into private insurance would be spent more effectively if invested directly in the public hospital system.

"The ideological focus of these reforms makes them attractive to those who prefer private institutions to fund health care," say the authors. "They show, however, that such policies create increased fiscal burdens for government, increase in equality in funding care, and have no observable effects on efficiency."

They conclude: "British and continental European conservatives should beware of the simple solutions used by their Antipodean colleagues. However, with John Howard being re-elected for a record fourth term in October 2004, they may also recognise that creating cost inflation and greater inequity in health care pays politically."


Related Private Insurance Articles from Brightsurf:

Men feel less powerful in their private lives
Men perceive themselves as having less power in their private than in their public lives, a new study from Lund University has suggested.

Private health insurers paid hospitals 247% of what medicare would
While recent hospital price transparency initiatives have increased information about procedure-level prices available to patients, employers who pay for most private insurance have little usable information about the prices negotiated on their behalf.

A call to arms: Enlisting private land owners in conservation
In 1872 the United States created Yellowstone, the first National Park in the world.

University research and the private sector
Food additives get a bad rap, but a natural ingredient from orange peels and apple skins, pectin, is a thickener safely added to many food products, most notably jellies.

Estimating breast cancer screening use, costs among women in 40s with private insurance
Researchers used a large commercial claims database to estimate the percentage of US women in their 40s with private insurance who were eligible and received screening mammography in 2017 and national costs for this screening.

Invest in private companies: They display more reliable accounts than public ones'
Institutional investors tend to put their money largely in public companies, persuaded that market discipline makes their accounts more reliable than private ones' and most financial literature confirms their beliefs.

Private property, not productivity, precipitated Neolithic agricultural revolution
The Neolithic Agricultural Revolution is one of the most thoroughly-studied episodes in prehistory.

Bats use private and social information as they hunt
As some of the most savvy and sophisticated predators out there, bats eavesdrop on their prey and even on other bats to collect a wide variety of information as they hunt.

Private equity-backed acquisitions of dermatology practices
This observational study describes the scope of private equity-backed acquisitions of dermatology practices in the United States.

People more likely to trust machines than humans with their private information
Not everyone fears our machine overlords. In fact, according to Penn State researchers, when it comes to private information and access to financial data, people tend to trust machines more than people, which could lead to both positive and negative online behaviors.

Read More: Private Insurance News and Private Insurance Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to