For those feeling uninspired, unimpressed and downright disappointed in the election campaign, have we got a book for you….featuring some fresh ideas about health policy, amongst other things.
Jennifer Doggett, a Fellow of the Centre for Policy Development, writes:
“Anyone frustrated by the lack of debate on health policy in the election campaign might be interested a new ebook from the Centre for Policy Development called More than Luck: ideas Australia needs now, released yesterday.
In the health chapter of this book, I’ve pulled together some fresh and innovative solutions to perennial problems in health policy and suggested some strategies for addressing gaps in the current reform agenda.
For example, in relation to the private health insurance rebate I’ve suggested that the current subsidy could be re-directed to give all low and middle income earners an annual $600 ‘health rebate’ to spend on health care of their choice.
This would be both more efficient and more equitable than the current rebate system which does not benefit many people on low incomes as they cannot afford rising health insurance premiums or the high out-of-pocket costs of private health care. It would allow families to use their rebate to meet the cost of basic medical care, such as gap payments for GP visits and prescription medicines and to fund dental and allied health services without the restrictions and caps placed on rebates by private health funds.
Consumers would also be able to save their annual health rebate to help them pay for future health care expenses. Those people who value their health insurance could continue to use their rebate to subsidies their insurance premiums, as currently occurs, so they would not be any worse off.
Politically this proposal has attraction for both sides of politics. Its targeting of low and middle income earners fits the Labor electoral demographic and it gets around the politically risky move of taking away a subsidy that consumers – rightly or wrongly – perceive as money in their pockets. It also supports the Coalition’s stated values of choice and individual responsibility and commitment to a private health care market.
Importantly, this proposal could be implemented without any major structural reform of the health system or by requiring the medical profession to change the way they practice – both major barriers to change within the health sector.
Other health policy ideas from the More than Luck ebook include the following:
- Giving all consumers a ‘health credit card’ to pay for health care with no up-front payments and regular re-payments at low interest;
- Establishing a single, comprehensive safety-net for all forms of health care;
- Allocating health funding on a regional basis with resources linked to community needs rather than the location of health care provider;
- Forming Citizens’ Juries to inform the allocation of health resources;
- Giving people with chronic conditions control over their own health and personal care budgets to enable greater flexibility in the delivery of services to meet their needs;
- Restricting Medicare provider numbers in areas of doctor over-supply to improve medical workforce distribution;
- Establishing a MedicinesWiki to give consumers a strengthened role in promoting the safe use of medicines; and
- Using prediction markets to help consumers facing difficult health care decisions.
More detail on these proposals can be found on the More than Luck website at http://morethanluck.cpd.org.au/.
The ideas in the ebook are intended to stimulate debate and inject some diversity into the election agenda and my co-authors and I would welcome readers’ input and feedback.”
Croakey would also welcome feedback about the ideas floated in the book: have a read and let us know what you think…