Health Care Threats and Opportunities Map

Follow the green links for more detail on this site. Home Page

  • Australia’s world class health care system
  • The expensive alternative being sponsored by multinationals and some governments.
  • You Can Help
    • Avoid increased health care expenditure with reduced benefits for the public.
    • Maintain world class health outcomes.
    • Avoid health penalties for Australians and economic penalties for Australia.
    • Increase Australia’s growth
  • How you can help

Is Medicare Sustainable?

Dangerous Myths, Real Facts, Good News and Threats Page

  • Myths that derail public debate
  • The Facts without political spin
  • Medicare is Sustainable!
  • Some Key Threats

How Health Cuts Affect You

How health cuts affect YOU

Privatisation Threats

Privatisation Page

Australia’s health care provision is being extensively privatised at both Federal and State levels. The issues and threats are interlaced with the economic need to drive Australia’s future productivity with high quality health care.

This page outlines some of the many threats and issues.

  • Why Australia is a magnet for multinationals
  • A Detailed Independent Study of a Partially Privatised Government Service – Electricity:  findings include: customer dissatisfaction, reliability has declined, efficient investment has not occurred, higher cost, poorer service, reduced productivity and unjustified high returns for owners.
  • Penalties for the broader economy includes:
  • Penalties for basic health care
  • Hospital  Public Private Partnerships
    • conflict of interest
  • Sale of Medibank Private
    • loss of downward pressure on private insurance prices
    • loss of golden revenue stream
  • Six Important Questions
  • Australia’s Future Prosperity
  • Short term Political Expediency and Long Term Penalties

Lost National Growth

  • Reduced national growth (implies higher unemployment and under employment)
    • The UN, IMF and OECD all state inequality reduces growth.
    • The OECD states that public services such as high quality health care delivered to the bottom 40% of income earners reduce inequality (hence improve growth).
    • OECD formulas indicate Australia’s 2013 GDP was reduced by  2% ie $27 billion by the burst in income inequality 2000-2008.  According to the OECD a penalty will apply each year for 25 years and they calculate Mexico and New Zealand have lost 10% of growth that way.
    • Key OECD findings and relevance to Australia

Australians Losing Control of Australia

  • International treaties, agreements and partnerships can cause:
    • Higher prices for medicines
    • Undermine the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS)
    • Allow foreign investors to sue the Australian government if the government enacts laws or policies that protect public health
    • Introduce restrictions on public health regulations on food
    • and more!!

    see Treaties, Agreements and Partnerships which includes other group’s campaigns and policies.

  • The China free trade agreement signed June 2015 includes the ability for Chinese companies to sue the Australian government in international tribunals (outside Australia’s legal system) if the company feels they have been discriminated against. The fine detail of China’s right to sue has been deferred until after the agreement has been implemented.
  • The latest series of free trade agreements, grant legal rights to foreign investors not available to Australians, expose the government to potentially large unfunded liabilities and add extra costs on businesses attempting to comply with them. – Productivity Commission

Tax System


Misleading Facts in the Media divert public debate, two key examples.

  • The private health insurance rebate (now ~$6 billion) has grown by about 400% in 13 years and is the fastest growing component in health care.
    ACOSS found the rebate does not reduce public health care costs.
    When included with health care costs, it gives the  impression that basic health care costs are rising quickly. The rebate is discussed in Is Medicare Sustainable?
  • Health care services need to cater for the rapidly growing Australian population, 354,600 in the 12 months to Sept 2014,  and  also a need to care for ballooning numbers of visas, an estimated 5 million visas will be issued in 2015.
    It seriously overstates cost growth to compare dollar costs for different years without adjusting for population, visa visitors and inflation.
  • The Free Trade Agreement signed with China in June 2015 grants Chinese investors in projects valued over $150 million additional rights to bring in temporary migrant workers.  Potentially an additional load on our health system above projected visa numbers.

Private Insurance Company Control of GPs

Private Health insurance gaining control of Primary health care eg GP services.

  • Already trialled in QLD starting when  Campbell Newman was Premier with privately insured patients receiving higher levels of service.
  • Fundamentally illegal but the government found a work around.
  • The Age, May 25th 2015, reported “Medibank Dumps GP Access Trial”…”The trial had been the subject of fierce controversy since its launch in October 2013, with consumer advocates arguing the move eroded universal healthcare because people with private cover would get a better standard of care than those without insurance.”

Loss of Downward Pressure on Health Costs, Lower Service Levels.

The demolition of Manly public hospital and downgrade of Mona Vale public Hospital to be replaced by a privately operated hospital

  • conflict of interest – management responsibility to private shareholders vs the public’s health.
  • reduces competition in Sydney’s Northern Beaches area by removing most public hospital resources.

Loss of Privacy,  Parliament Bypassed

  • Privatisation of Medicare processing systems (a $27 billion revenue stream) has bypassed Parliamentary review and debate.
    • includes the risks that personal data currently held by the government will be
      • held outside Australia
      • outside Australia’s legal jurisdiction
      • available to pharmaceutical multinationals.

Reduced Hospital Services

The range of hospital services may be reduced where private operators replace public operators

  • new privately operated “WA Midland Public Hospital” will not have the reproductive services previously provided by the Swan District Hospital.

Growing External Overheads

  • Recruitment industry overheads. The UK national health service is struggling with a blow out in the cost of recruitment industry overheads for nursing staff (whose salaries have NOT blown out).

Climate Induced Migration threatens health and much more

  • “In 2014, 11 million people fled conflict or violence in Syria, Afghanistan and other troubled regions of the world. But the average number of people displaced by natural disasters, including floods, storms and droughts, has averaged 22.5 million a year since 2008 and is growing”
  • “Low-lying Bangladesh could see a 15 percent increase in net poverty by 2030 as a result of climate pressures….could also eventually lose a sixth of its territory…”

External link, Climate migrants could dwarf other refugee flows.

The World Bank calculates current emission targets will result in 4 degrees of global warming, there is little room for optimism.

Opportunities to improve national productivity and wealth

Investing in people builds nations, especially where investment reduces inequality, see Key OECD findings and relevance to Australia

  • Include dental in Medicare. Studies confirm that an increased incidence of gum disease and other dental issues is clearly tied to income levels dragging down productivity.
  • Government investment addressing alcohol issues, the major substance abuse issue in Australia.  Anti smoking investments produced substantial profits for the nation.
  • Encourage earlier access to primary health care (includes GPs) to reduce growing Emergency Dept and Hospital costs, and loss of productivity.
  • Address the areas of higher personal costs that Australians pay compared to other countries with similar health systems. Effect is lower income Australians defer medical treatment and have lower productivity.
  • Australia’s tight targeting of its low welfare tends to create poverty traps that other wealthy countries are less likely to have. Free taxpayer funded health care helps address poverty traps and in doing so also helps reduce child poverty which at 17.7% is high by the developed world’s standards although less than Romania and the USA.