Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Professor Just Stoelwinder: medicare funding should be transparent

Just Stoelwinder 125Funding for Medicare should be transparent if we want the system to be sustainable, according to Professor Just Stoelwinder (Head of the Health Services Management Unit).

Prof Stoelwinder was one of several distinguished academics who spoke at the inaugural Deeble Institute symposium last week. His talk, titled ‘sustaining tax-funded universal healthcare,’ focused on Medicare.

Under the current system, the public has no way of knowing how much taxpayer money is going towards funding Medicare or even how this funding works, he argued.

This means it is easier for politicians to kowtow to vested interests instead of doing what is best for the public when it comes to health.

If funding were transparent, the public would better understand the financial pressures of funding universal healthcare - pressures that are currently hidden in an opaque and confusing system.

He also suggested several ways to improve the funding of Medicare, which has an annual growth of 3.5% above inflation. These included a hypothecated income related tax such as a Medicare levy, and consumer contributions to competing health plans combining the public and private health spheres. This would create competition, and, assuming the system was well-regulated, would give consumers more choice while driving down prices.

However, Prof. Stoelwinder doesn’t hold out much hope for reform. He believes change, especially in Medicare, will stay off the agenda until economic need pushes the government to search for possible improvements. Right now, things are just too good.

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