This morning I dashed into Medibank in order to (finally) take out private health insurance and avoid (another) 2% bump in premiums before my birthday tomorrow.

And then I logged on to the Age to read (another) op-ed telling me (again) what I already believe: that private health-care is an evil publicly funded leech that plays on people’s middle-of-the-night fears and that if we had any guts we would crush it beneath our heels instead of continuing to invite it to suck our blood.

Or, as Kenneth Davidson more elegantly expressed it, “its major purpose is to give its customers the chance to jump the queue for elective surgery while allowing providers to over-service and over-charge their patients.”

I know, I know, and I am still going to allow the leech to feast on my blood, because my own middle-of-the-nights fears are just too scary. I have a non-life-threatening-but-still-sucko medical condition – multiple sclerosis – so I’ve been dealing with the health care system more than I would like. And I am grateful for Medicare and the PBS, especially when I hear stories from American patients about struggling to afford drugs that are available to Australians as a matter of course, as soon as you are diagnosed.

But still. Once a cat-scan had established that I did not have a brain tumour, and so was not in imminent danger of death, I had to wait a good long time for specialist appointments and scans and more appointments to tell me the results of the scans and etcetera, all the time wondering why the hell my brain had lost the ability to communicate with the right side of my body. Weeks and weeks, during which time I decided that I had gone insane as a form of protest against the war on terror, and all those people who were walking around with no apparent trouble just didn’t care about dead Afghan babies.

And there has been more waiting since – waiting that didn’t affect my physical health, but certainly affected my stress levels. And I live in hope that signing up for private health insurance will make a difference in that regard, once I’m through yet another lot of waiting – this time for the 12 months before pre-existing conditions can be covered.

But I’m still on the side of the public health system. The private health system on its own will never meet the needs of people with long-term and expensive medical conditions. The private health insurance rebate should be scrapped, and the funding diverted to the public system. At the very least, it should be means-tested.

And to Joe Hockey – as Davidson says “Medibank Private is the biggest health insurer because it is public.” So don’t sell it. I choose Medibank because it has a cheaper package for single parents, whereas other funds would charge my daughter and I at the same rate as a family of two adults plus children. I assume that public ownership has something to do with that, although I may be wrong.

And I may be wrong about the placebo-effect of private health cover. But for the moment, I’ll go on taking the placebo. As well as the PBS funded injections, three times a week, that are creating an interesting pattern of hollows across my belly…