Category Archives: Health

LESLEY RUSSELL. Private Health Insurance – a low-value proposition?

Private health insurance has been allowed to undermine the universality Australian healthcare to the extent that international experts now downgrade the Australian system in comparison to those of similar countries because it is two-tiered. Growing public concerns about increasing premiums, … Continue reading

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EVAN WILLIAMS. Nanny state? Bring it on!

Among conservatives, the term “nanny state” is enjoying a new vogue.  And its use is by no means confined to a handful of loony libertarians.  Any action intended to protect personal safety or curb anti-social behaviour is now seen as … Continue reading

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IAN McAULEY– Private Health Insurance – let’s make the young pay.

Private health insurers are losing their most profitable members, younger people whose contributions subsidise older members. Rather than forcing young people back into private insurance, the government should break private hospitals’ dependence on private insurance and let private insurance go … Continue reading

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PETER MCCULLAGH. Good Suicide versus Bad Suicide

Will legalised suicide, even when presented as ‘assisted dying’, adversely impact on efforts to reduce do-it-yourself suicide? If it looks like a duck and it quacks, then . . .

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FRANK BRENNAN. Compulsory drug testing is no silver bullet.

Christian Porter, the Minister for Social Services, has been trying to make his mark as an upcoming minister in the Turnbull Government.  Porter thinks he might have found the perfect silver bullet: mandatory drug tests for unemployed welfare recipients. 

Posted in Economy, Health | 1 Comment

TIM WOODRUFF. Basic income guarantee: this is a health issue!

In 1970, conservative republican US President Richard Nixon introduced a health bill into the American Congress. It passed but was defeated in the Senate. He didn’t realise it was a health bill, nor did many of his fellow politicians. It … Continue reading

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IAN WEBSTER. Lessons from the British National Health Scheme for Australia.

Jeremy Hunt, Health Secretary in the UK, accused Stephen Hawking of a ‘pernicious lie’: “(he) is a brilliant physicist but wrong on lack of evidence.”  Stephen Hawking had said his survival for 75 years with motor neurone disease was due … Continue reading

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GERMAN LOPEZ. Imagine if the media covered alcohol like other drugs

What if the media covered alcohol like it does other drugs? This was a question that came up in my coverage of flake hka, a synthetic drug that made headlines after law enforcement blamed it for people running in the … Continue reading

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KIM OATES. Infections in healthcare: common but eminently preventable

Infections acquired in hospitals are a major contributor not only to avoidable deaths but also to the cost of health care. Among preventative measures the simple but often neglected practice of hand-washing stands out.

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ROB MOODIE. Seven tactics that unhealthy industries use to undermine public health policies.

Across Africa there are examples of governments trying to introduce policies that improve health and protect the environment only to find their efforts undermined by unhealthy corporations and their industry associations.  A case in point is South Africa’s efforts to … Continue reading

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LEANNE WELLS. Health insurance: the big shift that’s left patients short

The transformation of big health funds into for-profit business enterprises sheltered by significant government subsidy and regulations has failed to prompt a complementary  response from federal governments, Coalition or Labor, to even the playing field for consumers.

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STEPHEN DUCKETT. Why it costs you so much to see a specialist – and what the government should do about it

Australians pay too much when they go to medical specialists. The government can and should do more to drive prices down. A current Senate Inquiry on out-of-pocket costs will hopefully lead to some policy action.

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RICHARD ECKERSLEY. What most concerns us about our personal lives and the societies we live in?

Our quality of life is about much more than our standard of living.

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DAVID KING AND PETER BROOKS. Coal is the new tobacco.

Coal is the new tobacco in terms of the harms it has on our health.  No hospital would think of lending its logo to support the marketing of cigarettes or allowing any of its key decision makers to have strong … Continue reading

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KIM OATES. The health gap.

“The problem is ………. that we have been pursuing economic policy that benefits the one per cent. Trickle-down economics is defunct and does not work”. “Politics quickly departs from evidence into the realm of ideology ….. But evidence must be … Continue reading

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STEPHEN LEEDER. Comparing health systems in 11 countries

A new report comparing health systems in eleven countries gives Australia a pat on the back but not for equity. What’s going on?

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STEPHEN LEEDER. Review of the Medicare Benefits Schedule.

  The Medicare Benefits Schedule, or MBS, is the basis for Medicare payments made for medical care in the community. It runs to over 900 pages and contains 5,700 items. Well over $2Ob pass through its ledger each year. It … Continue reading

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John Menadue. The Coalition, rural poverty and rural health. (Repost from 16 January 2016)

It is not surprising that independents are making headway in country electorates. But what is the ALP doing?  

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JOHN MENADUE. Health Ministers may be in office but health providers are in power. Think medical specialists fees! (Repost from 19 April 2017)

‘Perhaps [we could consider] a review of what Pierre Trudeau and his government (in Canada) did in 1984 when they took on a system not dissimilar to ours – uncontrolled fee for service – and legislated that doctors could charge … Continue reading

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CHARLES LIVINGSTON. Victorian pokies “reforms” may impose big costs on population

The Victorian Government has announced that it will extend existing poker machine licences until 2042, freezing the total number of machines available in pubs and clubs at 27,342 (there are another 2,658 at Crown Casino). The Minister made much of … Continue reading

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ALICE FABBRI, LISA BERO AND RAY MOYNIHAN. Vested interests -Who’s paying for lunch? Here’s exactly how drug companies wine and dine our doctors

Now you can find out who’s wining and dining our doctors, nurses and pharmacists with publicly available data of drug company funded events.

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ANNE DUGGAN. The second Atlas of Healthcare Variation – a guide to better practice

The recently-released second Australian Atlas of Healthcare Variation reveals marked variations in the rates of common procedures across the country. It’s a valuable source of data to guide better allocation of health care resources through more appropriate, equitable and patient-centred … Continue reading

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STEVE LEEDER. Health care: getting it right the first time

Ronald Reagan once famously quipped that the nine most terrifying words in the English language are ‘I’m from the government, and I’m here to help’. But that doesn’t, for one moment, stop Michael Horrocks, Professor of Postgraduate Surgery at the … Continue reading

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STEVE LEEDER. A welcome review of the Medicare Benefits Schedule

In 2015 Sussan Ley, then the Minister for Health, established a review of the schedule of fees for medical benefits. The review of the schedule’s 5700 items, involving a rigorous evidence-based process, is now around half way through. When completed … Continue reading

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MICK PALMER. Australia’s Illicit Drugs Policy – There Really is a better Way

For over half a century Australian Governments have relied heavily on law enforcement to curb the drug trade, but, despite increasingly sophisticated and efficient policing strategies and operations Australia’s illicit drugs problems have continued getting bigger and the marketplace ever … Continue reading

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David Ben-Tovim, Some private hospitals are safer than others, but we don’t know which

Our research has shown that some private hospitals are safer than others, but from the data we analysed we couldn’t tell which. Governments should balance commercial interests against the public’s right to know which hospital is providing safe, high-quality care.

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JENNIFER DOGGETT. Wasting government funds in subsidising private health insurance.

In the lead up to the recent Federal Budget, the Australian Healthcare Reform Alliance (AHCRA) ran a campaign to highlight the inefficiency of using health resources to subsidise private health insurance (PHI). The campaign focussed on calling on the Government to … Continue reading

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IAN WEBSTER. Specialists versus generalists: A commentary on John Menadue and Peter Brooks

John Menadue and Peter Brooks have mounted powerful critiques of private specialist medical practice in a series in Pearls and Irritations. The nub of their positions is the high fee structure in (private out-patient) specialist practice is out of kilter … Continue reading

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IAN McAULEY. Labor’s love affair with private health insurers

There was a recent flurry of media excitement about a supposed “secret hospital funding plan”, which turned out to be no more than an option under consideration by a think-tank. But the real (and overlooked) issue in health funding is … Continue reading

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BASTIAN SEIDEL. Patients want health not necessarily treatment.

Achieving recognition of general practitioners as medical specialists in our own right has been an uphill battle  for decades. We only achieved vocational recognition as specialists in the 1990s. For many years we were seen as #JustaGP, a term that symbolises … Continue reading

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