It has been described as “one of the worst pieces of public policy it is possible to imagine”. John Menadue has also argued that the $5 billion private health insurance rebate should be viewed as corporate welfare rather than a health program.
Advocates claim that claim that it eases the load on the public hospital system, but its critics argue that it entrenches and exacerbates inequities in the health system, as well as driving up costs.
The Rudd Government has shown no inclination for picking a fight with the private health insurance industry, and made a major error in specifically excluding an examination of the rebate from the brief of the National Health and Hospitals Reform Commission.
Are times changing? The Department of Health and Ageing has just put out this intriguing request for a tender “to build a new private health insurance economic model”.
It says: “The Department of Health and Ageing is seeking tenders from capable and experienced individuals or organisations to build a new economic model to will (sic) replace the existing private health insurance model built in 2005-06 that is now outdated.”
Is this a sign of a shift in support for the rebate; or is it laying some groundwork for advancing the Medicare Select proposal? Or maybe it is something else altogether…
I’ve sent off an inquiry to the DOHA staffer running the tender, but won’t hold my breath. If any Croakey readers can help with further info, please do so.
BTW, the tender closes at 2pm on March 26.