Wednesday, August 08, 2007

turning blue and having a tantrum

Catherine Deveny has done another great opinion piece in today’s Age, this time on the private health insurance rip-off. Like Deveny I am another conscientious objector regarding the government’s coercion into private health insurance. Until I read her article, I had also been deceived into believing the large chunk I pay, as a Medicare surcharge, doesn’t necessarily go into a public health slush fund. As I qualify to pay the levy by a mere few dollars each year, it is tempting to just work less to fall under the line but I had until today believed that paying the extra tax was an ethical act. Now I am not so sure.

Being over 30 when the Howard Administration decided to channel billions of dollars into the private health insurance industry – I was nicely under the penalty cut off. Interestingly if I wanted to take out private health insurance now, I would be paying yet another levy, for each year since my 30th birthday without insurance – not from when I began to earn over $50,000. Yet another disincentive.

Having watched 2 family members succumb to cancer, their health insurance policies helped neither of them. Identical treatment as a public or private patient - just a massive out of pocket bill for their stay if admitted privately.

The real issue is of course the move towards an American style health care system. A form of medical apartheid that just doesn’t work for anyone except the industry itself. In Bush’s America, it’s not just the millions of citizens without insurance who are disadvantaged. The majority of Americans are locked into dreaded HMOs (health maintenance organization), who decide what doctors and hospitals can treat you, along with limiting your actual treatment options. When a health plan is a fundamental perk of a job, you don’t get to choose your HMO. It also discourages you from alternative career options.

But back to Australia. The government continues to prop up the private health industry with massive rebates that has done little to decrease public hospital waiting lists. Individuals are getting poor value for money with their health cover with increasing out of pocket expenses and inflated premiums.

So what’s Rudd’s “me too” party going to do about it if they manage to noble the incumbent government? I’m not holding my breath on this one.


Blogger Chai said...

I went to see Sicko the other night. It's possible that is the future in store here.

7:55 am  
Blogger Bwca said...

Hopefully there is a demented Aussie film-maker madly editing our own version 'SickIE'.

1:10 am  
Blogger Another Outspoken Female said...

Not seen Sicko yet, nor sickie for that matter :)

8:12 am  

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