Health rebate a failure: report

A health economist's report says the Federal Government's health insurance rebate scheme has not provided an incentive for people to join funds. The report, by John Deeble, the architect of Medicare, says only 40 per cent of the increase in private fund benefits since 1998 has been used for health with the rest being consumed by dentistry, naturopathy, upgrading coverage and eliminating gaps in hospital fees.

Nor has the rebate reduced hospital waiting times with only 7.7 per cent of public patients moving to the private system. The report's author says the Government's 30 per cent health fund premium rebate has played virtually no role in increasing private health insurance membership with people surveyed saying they are more concerned about Medicare coverage and availability.

The Australian Consumers' Association said it was “obvious” the rebate wasn't going to provide an incentive for people to join private funds – it was “a blatant scare campaign” by the Government and funds that got people in. The ACA says Australia would have a much better health system without this rebate.