John Menadue. Budget repair and private health insurance.

Readers of this blog will be aware that I have been expressing concern about the serious consequences of the government subsidy costing $11 b. p.a. for the private health insurance industry. This subsidy has serious budget consequences:  it is skewed in favour of high income earners; it has not taken pressure off public hospitals; it has underwritten a dramatic increase in private specialist fees; it penalises country people who have very limited access to private hospitals; it weakens Medicare’s ability to control prices; it’s premium increases for over a decade have been at three times the rate of CPI increase and steadily takes us down the disastrous US health path.

Yesterday, the Balanced Budget Commission of the Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA), outlined various options to increase revenue and to reduce outlays

. In its options, CEDA suggested ‘removing the private health insurance rebate exemption’. In my blog of 19 November, I estimated that the government loses about $3 b. p.a. as a result of the revenue foregone through exemption from the Medicare levy surcharge.

CEDA also suggested ‘cutting the private health insurance rebate’. In my blog, I estimated that the cost of that rebate in the last budget was $6.3 b.

The CEDA Balanced Budget Commission which made these recommendations includes Paul McClintock, former Howard government Secretary of Cabinet; John Edwards, Reserve Bank of Australia board member; Professor Rodney Maddock from Victoria University; Michael Keating, former Secretary, Prime Minister and Cabinet and Finance; Terry Moran former Secretary Prime Minister and Cabinet,Ian Watt,former Secretary Prime Minister and Cabinet and John Langoulant, former WA Under-Treasurer.

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