Private Health Insurance and Regional Australia

Medical Journal of Australia, Vol. 182, No. 6, pp. 290-293, 2005

4 Pages Posted: 23 May 2009

See all articles by Buddhima Lokuge

Buddhima Lokuge

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Richard Denniss

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Thomas Alured Faunce

Australian National University

Date Written: March 21, 2005

Abstract

Since 1996, an increasing proportion of federal government expenditure has been directed into Australia’s healthcare system via private health insurance (PHI) subsidies, in preference to Medicare and the direct funding of public health services.

• A central rationale for this policy shift is to increase the use of private hospital services and thereby reduce pressure on public inpatient facilities. However, the impact of this reform process on regional Australia has not been addressed.

• An analysis of previously unpublished Australian Bureau of Statistics data shows that regional Australians have substantially lower levels of private health fund membership. As a result, regional areas appear to be receiving substantially less federal government health funding, compared with cities, than if these funds were allocated on a per-capita basis.

• We postulate that the lower level of membership in regional areas is mainly due to the limited availability of private inpatient facilities, making PHI less attractive to rural Australians.

• We conclude that PHI as a vehicle for mainstream federal health financing has potential structural failures that disadvantage regional Australians.

Keywords: Private health insurance, healthcare, managed care, health inequality, privatisation

Suggested Citation

Lokuge, Buddhima and Denniss, Richard and Faunce, Thomas Alured, Private Health Insurance and Regional Australia (March 21, 2005). Medical Journal of Australia, Vol. 182, No. 6, pp. 290-293, 2005. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1409034

Buddhima Lokuge

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Richard Denniss

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Thomas Alured Faunce (Contact Author)

Australian National University ( email )

Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 0200
Australia
61 2 61253563 (Phone)

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