Money and markets in Australia's healthcare system

18 Apr 2015

Chapter 8 of the book, Markets, rights and power in Australian social policy, edited by Gabrielle Meagher and Susan Goodwin, and published by Sydney University Press.

Since the 1980s, changes in government policy have encouraged corporate investment into the hospitals, medical centres, pathology laboratories and diagnostic facilities of the Australian healthcare system. Driven by the ‘new public management’ reform agenda, and in conformity with the contradictory and crisis-driven nature of neoliberalism, the government’s explicit agenda of privatisation and marketisation has profoundly altered the way the system is financed and organised. The sector, once dominated by public and not-for-profit, charity or religious institutions, with their own distinct but complementary functions, has lost its universal character and been transformed into a highly protected market system.

This chapter, by Fran Collyer, Kirsten Harley and Stephanie Short, explores the history of private and public health insurance schemes, and private and public healthcare services, to reveal the extent to which the system has become corporatised and privatised. The connections between government policy, the entry of corporate investment, the growth of for-profit organisations, and the changing balance between the private and public sectors are demonstrated. The implications of these changes for the healthcare budget, for the effective planning and delivery of services and for access to essential healthcare services for all Australians are examined.


Chapters in Markets, rights and power in Australian social policy:

Introduction: Capturing marketisation in Australian social policy
1) The politics of market encroachment: policymaker rationales and voter responses
2) The marketisation of human services and the expansion of the not-for-profit sector
3) The devil's in the detail: the hidden costs of private retirement incomes policy
4) Social benefit bonds: financial markets inside the state
5) 'Which bank?' Competition and community service obligations in the retail banking sector
6) Community aged care providers in a competitive environment: past, present and future
7) Home security: marketisation and the changing face of housing assistance in Australia
8) Money and markets in Australia's healthcare system
9) Marketisation of immigrant skills assessment in Australia
10) Markets in education: 'School choice' and family capital
11) Conditional income transfers and choice in social services: just more conditions and more markets?

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Markets, rights and power in Australian social policy
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