Australians should be able to receive Medicare-type benefits directly from the private health fund of their choice, according to the authors of an article published in the Medical Journal of Australia.
Prof Johannes Stoelwinder and Dr Francesco Paolucci argue the current escalation of health spending in Australia does not appear to be sustainable and taxpayers should be given a direct say on how public health funds are spent.
Prof Stoelwinder is Chair of Health Services Management at Monash University and a Director of Medibank Private. Dr Paolucci is a Research Fellow at the Australian Centre for Economic Research on Health at the Australian National University.
Prof Stoelwinder said Australia should consider adopting a public health care funding model similar to the system used in The Netherlands, where Government channels funding for Medicare-type benefits through private health funds.
"Under the Dutch system, individuals choose among competing private health funds for a standardised basic benefits package. These benefits are similar to those covered under Medicare," he said.
"The Government provides funding directly to health insurers to pay for Medicare-type benefits and people on lower incomes are given financial assistance to purchase health cover.
"Additional private health insurance can be purchased to cover dental care, supplementary cover for medicines, allied health and other ancillaries.
"Adopting a system similar to the Dutch model would make health funding more transparent, increase patient choice and free up the Government to concentrate on overall health policy questions, instead of directly managing the system."
The Medical Journal of Australia
is a publication of the Australian Medical Association.