… informing the public about the true cost of the Public Health System. In Terry Barnes’ recent article in the SMH, it was all about the proposed GP co-payment policy. Terry does call for broad “conversation” about reform, but he doesn’t draw any attention to the true cost of the public healthcare system, which is about 10% of GDP. Many Australians that think their Medicare surcharge (1.5%) covers the cost of healthcare. The public system is a good safety net for those that can’t afford private health insurance, but it’s underfunded and grossly inefficient compared to the private sector.
Medfin and Experien pioneered specialised finance for Healthcare Businesses and Professionals and did it so well that they have been slowly taken over by National Australia Bank and Investec, respectively. The pioneers recognised the very low risk of lending to doctors personally and to their businesses in view of their being highly intelligent, of the highest integrity, among the most affluent, and having government guaranteed incomes. The credit criteria applied was therefore quite flexible, many doctors became accustomed to almost unlimited credit, and defaults were extremely rare.
But, the changes imposed on the banking industry as a consequence of the GFC has resulted in Medfin being now totally absorbed by NAB, and it’s now unclear as to how the bank will view the Healthcare market in terms of credit policy. The situation is similar at Experien, where the name (and autonomy?) has been phased out by Investec.
While this may further extend tight credit policies for financing things like Medical Equipment, it should represent an opportunity for a new lender or lenders to fill the void in Healthcare. It is also a good reason to retain the services of a broker with extensive knowledge of the Healthcare market and with access to private lenders, because without Medfin and Experien, you’re dealing with just another big bank in which the staff is always changing.
The price of Medical Imaging Equipment in the U.S. is at least 20% higher than everywhere else, and it wouldn’t surprise me that the same is true of all Medical Equipment. While the Democrats in the White House and Congress have focused on providing for the many uninsured, the overall cost must surely increase, and small to medium-sized businesses will bear the bulk of the burden. How can they now be expected to hire new workers and reduce the very high rate of unemployment?
Before the ‘reform’ bill passed, a recently published Commonwealth Fund study found that health spending was US$7,290 per person in the United States, almost double that of any other country in the survey.
Canadians spent $3,895, the Netherlands $3,837, Germans $3,588, Australians $3,357, and Britons spent $2,992 per capita on health in 2007. New Zealand spent the least at $2,454.
There must be a way to reduce the cost of healthcare in the U.S. without compromising the system of free enterprise through Federal regulations. Maybe the growth of medical tourism is the answer. I wonder how much costs would come down if U.S. insurance companies would cover medical procedures for Americans willing to travel, to Canada, for example.