Michael Pascoe writes:

Pssst, wanna buy a government corporation that advertises itself using Fu Manchu stereotypes? Oh, those Chinamen are good for a laugh. Medibank is just what your investment bank might fancy, then.

A sensitive subscriber corresponds regarding Medibank’s home page, the main feature of which is a couple of caricatures of wily oriental medicine men. The subscriber finds the shot racist and offensive, as well as being at odds with Medibank’s efforts to have Chinese speakers on staff in areas with significant Chinese populations. I would have thought it was just a bit lame.

If the shot is part of some broader advertising campaign, I’ve missed it. By ploughing through the site, one might reach the suspicion that the pic refers to the option of obtaining medical insurance that covers acupuncturists, but you’d have to be keen to make that effort.

We somehow doubt it’s the sort of thing that would make a good cover for a prospectus – but Medibank is more likely to be flogged quietly in a trade sale anyway, giving one of the existing government-dependent quasi-private sector health funds a dominant slice of the market.

Which raises other questions. Given the non-profit nature of most of the health insurers here, where’s the profit motive behind joining an auction for greater market share? If the theoretical excuse is greater efficiency and therefore cheaper premiums for members, wouldn’t it be better to have a single health fund enjoying maximum economies of scale?

But you’d probably need to be a government body to run such a thing, probably something like Medibank in fact. And we have to sell that. It’s all too hard really. Someone give me a taxpayer-subsidised acupuncture treatment, herbal remedy and a massage.

Peter Fray

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