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Competitive health markets and risk equalisation in Australia: Lessons learnt from other countries

Fouda, A., Fiorentini, G. and Paolucci, F. (2017) Competitive health markets and risk equalisation in Australia: Lessons learnt from other countries. Applied Health Economics and Health Policy, 15 (6). pp. 745-754.

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The aims of this paper are to evaluate the risk equalisation (RE) arrangement in Australia’s private health insurance against practices in other countries with similar arrangements and to propose ways of improving the system to advance economic efficiency and solidarity. Possible regulatory responses to insurance market failures are reviewed based on standard economic arguments. We describe various regulatory strategies used elsewhere to identify essential system features against which the Australian system is compared. Our results reveal that RE is preferred over alternative regulatory strategies such as premium rate restrictions, premium compensation and claims equalisation. Compared with some countries’ practices, the calculated risk factors in Australia should be enhanced with further demographic, social and economic factors and indicators of long-term health issues. Other coveted features include prospective calculation and annual clearing of equalisation payments. Australia currently operates with a crude mechanism for RE in which the scheme incentivises insurers to select on risk rather than focusing on efficiency and equity-promoting actions. System changes should be introduced in a stepwise manner; thus, we propose an incremental reform.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Sir Walter Murdoch School of Public Policy and International Affairs
Publisher: Springer
Copyright: © 2017 Springer International Publishing Switzerland
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