The hidden secret of Australian health

| July 17, 2015

How can we improve patient outcomes and address some of the challenges Australia’s health system is facing? Neil Batt has some thought-provoking ideas.

The hidden secret is that Australian health is substantially overfunded. There is no driver for efficiency in the whole health system. It is bedevilled by excess bureacracy, lack of competition, divided responsibility between state and Commonwealth Government and excessive regulation.

It is odd that the bulk of hospitals are owned and run by state governments. The Productivity Commission some years ago did a study comparing the efficiency of the public and private hospital systems. It was not well done. It did not compare like with like, it did not take account of capital costs, it did not examine the cost of regulation and the level of bureacracy. It needs to be done again.

Why would we not propose the privatisation of public hospitals? I have a fantasy of swopping the management of the retail sector in Australia with the management of the hospital sector. In this fantasy the supermarkets would have queues outside them, every check out person would have a public servant minding them. There would be a shortage of everything and a small number would starve to death.

Could we copy the Dutch system and have everyone covered by private health insurance with the state ensuring the capacity and all citizens purchasing their health needs in the private marketplace?

Citizens are capable of looking after their own needs if they are given the financial capacity.