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Policy change and private health insurance: Did the cheapest policy do the trick?

CollectionsANU National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health (NCEPH)
Title: Policy change and private health insurance: Did the cheapest policy do the trick?
Author(s): Butler, J.R.G
Gavin Mooney
Aileen Plant
Keywords: private health insurance
lifetime community rating
membership uptake
government expenditure
Publisher: Australian Hospital Association
Series/Report no.: National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health (NCEPH) Working Paper: No.44
From the introduction of Australia’s national health insurance scheme (Medicare) in 1984 until recently, the proportion of the population covered by private health insurance declined steadily. Following an Industry Commission inquiry into the private health insurance industry in 1997, a number of policy changes were effected in an attempt to reverse this trend. The main policy changes were of two types: “carrots and sticks” financial incentives that provided subsidies for purchasing, or tax penalties for not purchasing, private health insurance; and lifetime community rating, which aimed to revise the community rating regulations governing private health insurance in Australia. <p> This paper argues that the membership uptake that has occurred recently is largely attributable to the introduction of lifetime community rating which goes some way towards addressing the adverse selection associated with the previous community rating regulations. This policy change had virtually no cost to government. However, it was introduced after subsidies for private health insurance were already in place. This chronological sequencing of these policies has resulted in substantial increases in government expenditure on private health insurance subsidies, with such increases not being a <i>cause</i> but rather an <i>effect</i> of increased demand for private health insurance.
ISBN: 1740671406
ISSN: 0156-5788


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