According to today’s papers, the Labor Party seems to be making a sensible decision to oppose providing a higher private health care rebate to older Australians. (From April 2005, the Federal Government plans to increase the 30 per cent private health insurance rebate to 35 per cent for people aged from 65 to 69 years and to 40 per cent for people 70 years and older, at a cost of about $110 million per year.)
But why doesn’t the ALP go further? In Imagining Australia, we argue that the private health care rebate should be means-tested. Otherwise, we have the anomaly that poor Australians get no dental care, but the federal government pays 3/10ths of the cost of dental insurance for the rich. Encouraging private health insurance is a reasonable goal — but we should make sure that it doesn’t become middle-class welfare.
Hmm, maybe there’s an op-ed in that…..