If private health insurance really is “in the Coalition’s DNA,” as Tony Abbott once claimed, it might be time for the government to seek some gene therapy. Despite health minister Greg Hunt’s efforts to improve the system by simplifying the options on offer and discounting premiums for young people, the “death spiral” predicted by the Grattan Institute shows no sign of abating.
The latest figures from the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority reveal that 28,000 Australians dropped their hospital insurance in the June quarter, the largest group being twenty- to twenty-four-year-olds. Membership numbers are at their lowest level in fourteen years.
Private health insurance — and particularly the $6 billion rebate and other tax concessions given to policy-holders — has long been criticised by left-leaning commentators for its inefficiency and inequity. But conservative commentators and groups are increasingly adding their voices.