US-style not for Australia

AUSTRALIA seems unlikely to move to a US-style health system.

Several organisations have promoted the view that Australia would head to the managed-fund driven system prevalent in the US.

Horror stories abound about the machinations of the US system. In some cases, health funds can dictate what tests and treatment can be given to a patient.

HBF managing director Michael Gurry said, in the US, health insurance was paid for by the employer rather than the consumer.

“Part of the problems highlighted there come because the fund payers are looking at costs,” he said.

“There is also no universal system, such as Medicare, in the US.”

Mr Gurry said there had been minor moves to include health insurance in salary packages.

“I think it’s a sensible thing for business to do, particularly for key people,” he said.

“However, there are Fringe Benefits Tax concerns attached to offering health insurance as a salary package option.

The 30 per cent rebate also poses a challenge as the rebate has to go to the individual.

Mr Gurry said HBF had set up a special group to deal with health insurance in salary packaging.

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