'And who are you wearing?'

‘And who are you wearing?’

This week presented the perfect platform to discuss the contentious Oscars. I’m not referring to the racial undercurrent, but rather the red carpet disasters (exercising my right as a self-proclaimed fashion critic). But with the announcement today around health insurance premium increases and the digital traffic that is emerging, how could I pass up this opportunity?

As Australians we are fortunate in many ways, though perhaps not always the “lucky country”. We do however have a very accessible public health system, and while it may not be perfect, it certainly beats systems in other countries (if they are fortunate enough to have one at all). I find it interesting having worked across both public and private health organisations that often the most challenging and unrealistic complaints come from consumers who largely access their health needs for free. We all pay tax and a Medicare levy but it is usually the same group of complainers who believe this covers the cost of everything.

I am all for consumers being an advocate in their own care or the care of their partner or sibling, but whether that advocacy extends to complaining to the Health Minister about preservatives in a brand of ice blocks being offered in a children’s emergency department to encourage intake of fluids is another story (I kid you not). That said, the public system is what it is, and the demands are ever increasing.

While there is nothing wrong with a burning platform to initiate change, to be constantly working in that environment can leave the soles of each employee blistered from the constant heat. You’d think that Private Health Insurance schemes would recognise the need for more of the population to take up the offer to privately insure and gain greater control and choice of their health care needs. Unfortunately, the figure has remained largely unchanged despite the general wealth of Australians being in a better place. I appreciate this might be a generalisation but I never professed to be an economist.

With the announcement of the increase in premiums ranging from 3.76% to as high as 8.95%, I suspect the question for many privately insured people is “What price am I prepared to pay for my own health care needs?”. Obviously as CEO of a private hospital it is no surprise that I would be an advocate for private health insurance. But I’ve made this choice as an individual who cares about my family’s health, as well as my own, and I’m grateful for the choice afforded. It is this key element of CHOICE that I feel is not exercised enough by consumers of private health insurance. It is choice that distinguishes the private health system from the public; it is choice that promotes a more meaningful discussion with your GP when considering a referral; it is choice that allows you to google hospital stats and enter chat rooms filled with fellow consumers ultimately supporting an informed decision. With this expected rise on the 1st April, don’t ask yourself the question “What is the cost I am prepared to put on my own health?” but rather ask yourself “Am I fully accessing what I am paying for?”.

If you were going to walk the red carpet, would you simply accept something off the sale rack… or would you choose to look your best?

Take a look for yourself

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