Does this
explain Julia Gillard’s strong showing in Newspoll today?
The private health insurance industry in Australia seems to be in a pretty sickly
state, according to findings released today by Roy Morgan Research.

to Morgan, a majority of Australians aged 18 and above – 59% – do not
have any form of private health insurance. And in a sign that younger Australians
are shunning the increasing costs in the private health system, it finds only
19% of those aged 18-24 and 32% of those aged 25-34 have
private health cover, compared with 41% of all Australians aged 18 and

Analysis by
age shows that those aged 35-49 and 50-64 are the most likely to have private
health insurance. Older Australians – those aged and above – are marginally
less likely than the average Australian to have private health insurance.

finds that “wealth and income are the strongest determinants when assessing the
likelihood of someone having private health insurance in Australia.
Of those earning more than $100,000 a year, 81% have private health
insurance, followed by 74% of those earning $90,000-$99,999, 69% of those earning $80,000-$89,999 and 65% of those earning
$70,000-$79,999. Only 29% of those who earn less than $15,000 have
private health insurance, 12% less than the average Australian.”

This direct and strong relationship between annual income and private
health insurance means there’s a problem for the policy makers.

If 81% of people earning over $100,000 have private health
insurance, that means that 81% of these people – earning more than twice
the average annual wage – are having almost a third of their private heath
insurance fees paid for by taxpayers. This is middle-class welfare at its worst
– middle class welfare that does nothing for people who cannot afford private
health cover.

People with private health insurance can remove burdens from the public
health system. Surely, though, the Government should be looking at a better
targeted program of incentives than its current shotgun approach.