IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Parallel Private Health Insurance in Australia: A Cautionary Tale and Lessons for Canada

  • Hurley, Jeremiah

    (McMaster University)

  • Vaithianathan, Rhema

    ()

    (University of Auckland)

  • Crossley, Thomas F.

    ()

    (University of Essex)

  • Cobb-Clark, Deborah A.

    ()

    (University of Melbourne)

Canada’s restrictions on the role of private health insurance for publicly insured physician and hospital services are unique among countries with universal, publicly funded health care systems. Pressure is mounting in Canada, however, to loosen these restrictions and create a parallel system of private finance. Advocates argue that creation of a parallel system of private finance will ensure the sustainability of the public system (by reducing public cost pressures), improve access to the public system (e.g., by reducing wait times), and improve quality in the public system (through competition). Opponents of parallel private finance argue that it will create “two-tiered” medicine, increase costs, compromise equity and reduce quality and access to publicly financed health care as those with the financial means (and often the strongest voice) exit to private insurance. Australia provides a particularly promising case study for Canada regarding the dynamics of parallel systems of public and private finance. This paper examines Australia's experience with parallel finance for inpatient hospital services to provide insight regarding: (a) the effectiveness of a parallel system of private finance in reducing costs and wait times in the public system; (b) risk selection between the parallel public and private insurance sectors; (c) the financial redistribution associated with the introduction and maintenance of a parallel system of finance; and (d) the dynamics of the broader political economy associated with parallel systems of finance. Australia's experience provides a number of lessons for Canada, including: (1) the potential for cost savings through introduction or expansion of a parallel private sector is very limited; (2) the introduction or expansion of a parallel private finance is unlikely to reduce wait times in the publicly financed system; (3) there is no simple way to regulate private insurers to pursue public objectives; (4) it is impossible to create an independent, isolated parallel system of private finance -- interactions between the public and private insurance sectors are complex and unavoidable; (5) quality plays a key role in driving the dynamics between the public and privately financed sectors; and (6) it is essential to articulate clear policy objectives for health care financing and to design public and private roles consistent with these objectives. Our overall conclusion is that the Australian experience provides a cautionary tale regarding the risks, costs and benefits of a parallel private system of health care finance.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL: http://ftp.iza.org/dp515.pdf
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 515.

as
in new window

Length: 43 pages
Date of creation: Jun 2002
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp515
Contact details of provider: Postal: IZA, P.O. Box 7240, D-53072 Bonn, Germany
Phone: +49 228 3894 223
Fax: +49 228 3894 180
Web page: http://www.iza.org

Order Information: Postal: IZA, Margard Ody, P.O. Box 7240, D-53072 Bonn, Germany
Email:


References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Besley, Timothy & Hall, John & Preston, Ian, 1999. "The demand for private health insurance: do waiting lists matter?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 72(2), pages 155-181, May.
  2. Jonathan Gruber, 2000. "Tax Subsidies for Health Insurance: Evaluating the Costs and Benefits," NBER Working Papers 7553, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. David M. Cutler & Richard J. Zeckhauser, 1999. "The Anatomy of Health Insurance," NBER Working Papers 7176, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Evans, R.G., 2000. "Financing Health Care: Taxation and the Alternatives," Centre for Health Services and Policy Research 2000:15d, University of British Columbia - Centre for Health Services and Policy Research..
  5. Jane Hall & Richard De Abreu Lourenco & Rosalie Viney, 1999. "Carrots and sticks-the fall and fall of private health insurance in Australia," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 8(8), pages 653-660.
  6. Jack, William, 1998. "Intergenerational Risk Sharing and Health Insurance Financing," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 74(225), pages 153-61, June.
  7. Amir Shmueli, 2001. "The effect of health on acute care supplemental insurance ownership: an empirical analysis," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 10(4), pages 341-350.
  8. Rhema Vaithianathan, 2001. "An Economic Analysis of the Private Health Insurance Incentive Act (1998)," CEPR Discussion Papers 427, Centre for Economic Policy Research, Research School of Economics, Australian National University.
  9. Besley, Timothy & Coate, Stephen, 1991. "Public Provision of Private Goods and the Redistribution of Income," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(4), pages 979-84, September.
  10. Carol Propper & Alan Maynard, 1989. "The market for private health care and the demand for private insurance in Britain," Working Papers 053chedp, Centre for Health Economics, University of York.
  11. Vaithianathan, Rhema, 2002. "Will Subsidising Private Health Insurance Help the Public Health System?," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 78(242), pages 277-83, September.
  12. Garry F. Barrett & Robert Conlon, 2003. "Adverse Selection and the Decline in Private Health Insurance Coverage in Australia: 1989-95," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 79(246), pages 279-296, 09.
  13. Mark Stabile, 2001. "Private insurance subsidies and public health care markets: evidence from Canada," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 34(4), pages 921-942, November.
  14. Chiu, W. Henry, 1997. "Health insurance and the welfare of health care consumers," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 64(1), pages 125-133, April.
  15. Ettner, Susan L., 1997. "Adverse selection and the purchase of Medigap insurance by the elderly," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 16(5), pages 543-562, October.
  16. Jeremiah Hurley, 2001. "Ethics, Economics, and Public Financing of Health Care," Centre for Health Economics and Policy Analysis Working Paper Series 2001-07, Centre for Health Economics and Policy Analysis (CHEPA), McMaster University, Hamilton, Canada.
  17. Propper, Carol, 2000. "The demand for private health care in the UK," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(6), pages 855-876, November.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp515. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Mark Fallak)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.