Australia Offers Possible Model for Health Reform
"We in the United States have a bad bargain, maybe the worst: high costs, uneven quality, poor access and no security of benefits except for those over age 65," Ian Morrison, author, consultant and futurist, writes in a Hospitals & Health Networks opinion piece. Looking for comparisons abroad, Morrison says "Australia can teach us some important lessons to fuel the U.S. health care debate."
"Private insurance in Australia is relatively cheap by [U.S.] standards, with cost depending on the type of coverage purchased," he writes. "Most importantly, private health insurance in Australia is community rated, and a reinsurance pool handles the risk adjustment that could face insurers who get disproportionate enrollment from the elderly or the sick," according to Morrison.
In the Australian system, "[t]here is almost no group insurance and almost no employer sponsorship of health insurance," according to Morrison. "Who needs it if you have community rating and risk adjustment?" he writes.
Morrison concludes: "There is no such thing as a perfect health care system. But Australia has wrestled, I think successfully, with big issues such as:
- The balance between public and private coverage;
- The role of employers;
- The value of tax subsidy;
- Simplicity of insurance product design; and
- Coordination of public and private controls for new technology" (Morrison, Hospitals & Health Networks, 7/11).
Morrison is a member of the board of directors of the California HealthCare Foundation, the publisher of California Healthline. This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.