science journalism denialism

Private Healthcare Australia (PHA), the lobby group representing the private health insurance industry, tweeted on Wednesday that there’s no need for an inquiry into the troubled sector… because there have been so many other inquiries into totally unrelated issues.

Well OK, sure. But the list of reviews in PHA’s tweet (apparently a screenshot from a story in The Australian) doesn’t quite help make the group’s case.

It includes, for example, the aged care royal commission, which has uncovered such shocking cases of elder neglect and abuse that it has felt the need to recommend immediate action in its interim report.

Also listed is the disability royal commission, which was announced after revelations of widespread abuse in that sector, and the Home Affairs review into the treatment of refugee footballer Hakeem al-Araibi who recently received an apology from the AFP after he was detained in a Thai prison thanks to the department’s bureaucratic stuff-ups.

Is PHA saying these are all reviews we could have done without?

And lest we forget the banking industry’s insistence that a royal commission was “unnecessary” when the industry was “already undertaking reform”.

The private healthcare sector might be just as confident of its own performance, but a number of public health and consumer advocacy groups, including the Consumer Health Forum and the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association, beg to differ.

Meanwhile, a recent Choice investigation found more than 200 “silver” tier policies which cost more than “gold” tier policies from other providers.

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PHA has called the criticisms “absolutely ridiculous”, and argued the mere fact that Choice was able to show the price differences proved the government’s private health comparison site was working.

But that suggestion felt a bit rich to Choice’s Dean Price.

Peter Fray

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