An economist from the Centre for Policy Development has pointed to the Department of Veterans’ Affairs to boost his argument for a single national health insurer.

Speaking to the Annual Health Insurance Summit in Sydney, Ian McAuley said the current situation with 38 different health insurers led to high overheads and cost blowouts.

“Private insurance is not mis-managed, nor am I claiming that it is exploiting consumers,” said Mr McAuley.

“In fact, private insurance is placed in a difficult situation by government policy which seeks to achieve community rating, to restrain budgetary outlays, and to contain inflationary pressures”.

In his presentation, Mr McAuley argued that a single insurer is more likely to contain moral hazard and deliver equitable care at lower costs.

To bolster his case, he cited the model administered by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, which provides health services for 300,000 veterans and their dependants.

The Department acts as the single insurer but most services, including two thirds of hospital services, are provided to clients and patients by the private sector.

“There would be significant economies and improvements in equity in extending the single insurer model to the delivery of all health programs”, said Mr McAuley.

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