Monday, January 19, 2015

No wonder 40% of Australians have private health insurance

See for example the disastrous situation described below -- where a "free" service is just not good enough by any criterion. 

Private health insurance is affordable in Australia.  Many people on relatively low incomes have it.  It is a significant budget item for many, however, so the majority would rather spend their money on beer and cigarettes than on insurance.  So they rely on the taxpayer for "free" health care.  They rely on bureaucratic healthcare provision.

And the ineffectiveness of that gets steadily worse.  Bureaucracies do not die overnight.  They are like cancer, slowly growing but they will kill you eventually. They gradually choke themselves to death.  And what we read below shows that process to be in an advanced state in Australia  -- the State health services all go back many decades.  And the services will get even worse in future.

So the present situation is in fact mostly fair.  If you put your money into beer and cigarettes instead of health insurance you deserve only third-rate care and that is what you get. You are mainly raiding people who have already paid for their own care and asking them to pay for your care too.

The solution to the problem posed by the situation below then is to get the beer and cigarettes money redirected into private health insurance -- so that the government system is left to care for the few who cannot afford even beer and cigarettes.  If that were done, much of the demand would be taken off the government service and the genuinely poor would get better service. 

So if you see the situation described below as a problem, your rational response would be to mandate private health insurance for all but the very poor.  If you don't like the compulsion in that you can console yourself that the existing system may be rather horrible for many but it is at least fair for the great majority.  Most of those being poorly treated could have chosen otherwise

I have a fairly average health insurance policy so my treatment in a recent health emergency is instructive.  I had an attack of kidney stones.  So I went straight to the Wesley private hospital here in Brisbane -- a church-run hospital named after two great Christians. Within less than two hours of the pain developing, I was given morphine as pain relief and within 6 hours I was on the operating table.  The ideal is possible and readily available in Australia.  It just isn't free

A Sydney hospital left a patient in its emergency department for almost six days, prompting condemnation from an expert in emergency medicine.

Details about the incident are scarce. But a hospital source said the patient was  admitted to Blacktown Hospital's emergency department on Wednesday evening the week before last.

The hospital confirmed the patient had been sitting in a recliner chair in its emergency department and was discharged at some time on Tuesday last week.

"This is absolutely extreme," said Clinical Associate Professor Paul Middleton from Sydney University. "In 25 years working in hospital emergency departments I've never seen anybody stay for that long.

"The lights are on all the time. It's noisy. There are wailing children, mental health patients, people pissed off with waiting and shouting; there's trauma; there's blood and there's vomiting. It's not a place to spend a long time. Patients don't do well [in emergency]."

The hospital, citing patient confidentiality, declined to provide details about the patient's illness. It said they had been treated while in the emergency department and been referred to hospital specialists.

Danny O'Connor, the CEO of the western Sydney local health district, said the patient was discharged after the hospital was satisfied with their progress.

Mr O'Connor also said the case "presented many social complexities" and that the hospital continued to care for patients who were unable to leave for "family or social reasons".

But Professor Middleton said a ward was the only place for a patient in hospital that long.

"There are also alternatives to staying in hospital [such as refuges]," he added.

The Health Minister, Jillian Skinner, declined to comment.

"Our members are sick of being abused by patients who are facing major delays," said Judith Kiedja from the nurses' and midwives' union.

The union advocates the government impose a ratio of one nurse for every three patients to maintain standards of care. Blacktown's emergency department has often run at twice that ratio of nurses this fortnight.

Tanya Whitehouse, from the Macarthur Domestic and Family Violence Service, said she found the case baffling.

"If the patient was facing domestic violence or homelessness, they should have seen a social worker and been found a refuge," she said.

A spokesman for the Family and Community Services Minister, Gabrielle Upton, said over the next three years the government would "invest a record half billion dollars to tackle homelessness across the state".

This latest case comes after a fortnight of major delays at Blacktown Hospital, where between 40 and 60 beds have been closed for the holidays.

A dozen patients, half aged over 80, were waiting more than two days in emergency two weeks ago.

There were further delays last week. Paramedics waited for 17 hours to hand one patient over to the care of the hospital.

"If they're closing that many beds it's a potential for disaster," Professor Middleton said.


The no-compromise Greenies

Wilderness areas must not be made accessible to visitors

THE Tasmanian government is on course to "trash" the state's wilderness world heritage area if proposed tourist development goes ahead in the region, former Greens leader Bob Brown says.

"TASMANIA'S unique status in having the only world heritage area on Earth actually labelled 'wilderness' should be thrown out if this selfish land-grab goes ahead," Dr Brown said in a statement on Sunday.  "This will trash decades of community commitment to Tasmania's wilderness pre-eminence.  "The brigade backing the government ... has dollar signs in its eyes."

The comments come as the Hodgman government is said to be pushing ahead with moves to allow tourist development in the previously off-limits World Heritage wilderness.

Large swathes of the 1.58 million hectare Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area will reportedly be opened to development under a new draft management plan released last week.

The tourism industry is backing the changes, but conservationists say the plan has the potential to allow damaging large projects.

Dr Brown said the area would have to change its name if the plan went ahead.

"Wilderness fame, more than anything, is the factor raising Tasmania's visitor numbers and tourism jobs by 10 per cent per annum," Dr Brown said.  "Let our beautiful island at least retain its integrity. It could be renamed the Tasmanian Once-Was-Wilderness World Heritage Area."


Libertarian Senator returns as good as he got

I personally would have ignored the abusive Leftist.  On rare occasions I do give some abuse back but I never stoop to foul language in doing so.  I do not wish to sink to their level.  I am pretty good at pointing out personal faults and weaknesses of the abusers, though

Senator David Leyonhjelm is unrepentant after calling an abusive correspondent a “communist turd”.  The libertarian Senator has confirmed he also told a constituent to go away - in graphic terms - in an expletive-filled rant on his taxpayer-funded email account.

Senator Leyonhjelm’s correspondence was then published on a blog by the target of his abuse, who suggested his suggestion that he “go f--- yourself’’ represented a suggestion that he “self harm”.

The row erupted after anti-discrimination campaigner and gay activist Gary Burns emailed NSW Senator Leyonhjelm and South Australian Senator Cory Bernardi.

In the email, Mr Burns opening salvo was to describe the MPs as “you two unAustralian pathetic little turds”.  He warned that if they allowed anyone to publish images ridiculing Jews or Muslims they would be in contempt of the anti-discrimination laws.

Senator Leyonhjelm returned fire, observing he was a “communist turd”, prompting some support from libertarians on Twitter.

But Mr Burns said: “This is the same imbecile calling for Australians to carry guns.” “This boofhead is not a fit or proper person to represent the good people of NSW. I’ve been called many things in life but never a communist,” he said.

“When I received the offensive email from the Senator I was so shocked I clutched my pearls and reached for the smelling salts.”

Mr Burns has previously sued broadcaster John Laws under the Anti-Discrimination Act for calling gay men “pillow biters”.

“Senator Leyonhjelm’s credibility as a Member of the Australian Parliament wouldn’t be capable of buttering a plate of parsnips for the dinner table. The idiot should go and live on Gobo Island with a pet sheep,” he said.

In response, the NSW Senator fired off a second email to Mr Burns encouraging him to take the action he suggested earlier.

“Dear Gary. It appears you have not yet acted on my advice. Please do so. Go f--- yourself as soon as possible. The world will be a better place,” it said.

A spokesman for Senator Leyonhjelm confirmed the emails were written by him


Queensland election 2015: parties launch campaigns

This campaign is an excellent example of how Leftists live in an eternal and unprincipled present.  The Left is attacking the ruling conservatives over the sell-offs of government property that the conservatives are doing.  Yet the last Leftist government also did big sell-offs, including the government freight railroad.  What is good for the goose is evidently not good for the gander.  What makes a policy right when Leftists do it but wrong when others do it?

4.24pm: Queensland Premier Campbell Newman acknowledged used part of his keynote speech at his re-election relaunch today to address polls that show both major parties will head into the final two weeks of the campaign neck and neck.

“Polls confirm that a hung parliament here is a very real possibility,” Mr Newman told about 1000 party faithful.

“Palmer, Katter and the Greens political party have done a deal to try and deliver a Labor government that will be at the mercy of their every whim and that is a recipe for chaos.” Mr Newman urged voters to abandon their right to preference all candidates and simply vote one for the LNP.

“Only by voting one for the LNP in local electorates right across this state can you ensure we stay on course for a brighter future and a stronger Queensland,” he said.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott was noticeably absent from the launch, with Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss and Senator George Brandis the only members of the coalition’s federal leadership team in attendance.

Mr Newman and other speakers focused on the LNP’s Strong Choices campaign throughout the launch, with Mr Newman even mentioning the word “strong” or one of its variants 34 times during his 24-minute keynote address.

2.51pm: Queensland Premier Campbell Newman pitched funding for schools at his re-election launch today.

1.48pm: Clive Palmer has missed his own party’s Queensland election campaign launch. His minders cited the flu as the reason Mr Palmer failed to attend the PUP launch on the Sunshine Coast earlier today.

But Palmer United Party state leader John Bjelke-Petersen was on hand to do the honours. He promised the party would abolish payroll tax to revive Queensland’s economy.

“Companies will move their offices and their activities from Sydney and Melbourne and Queensland will boom,” he told the crowd at Mr Palmer’s Coolum resort.

“There is no better way to create employment in Queensland than to offer real incentive for people to do business right here in Queensland,” he said.

The move would allow the “real serious problems” of a high cost of living to be addressed - a problem which “has been brought about primarily by poor government decisions and policy”, Mr Bjelke-Petersen said.

Queensland’s current payroll tax imposes a 4.75 per cent levy on businesses that pay more than $1.1 million a year in wages.

Premier Campbell Newman on Friday recommitted to a previous target of increasing the threshold to $1.4 million in three years. PUP proposes that levy be dropped to zero to attract more business to Queensland.

Payroll tax was “highly inefficient and damaging to the economy”, Mr Bjelke-Petersen said.

The party also vowed to support the development of the Maroochydore Airport into an international airport and restore the maintenance of main roads to the Department of Main Roads, claiming that contractors are given most of the work.

Mr Bjelke-Petersen is running for the Queensland seat of Callide against deputy premier Jeff Seeney.

1.18pm: Campbell Newman has pitched the launch of his re-election campaign today with new funding for schools and sweeteners for the young and Brisbane voters as he again warned Labor could take government in a hung parliament, Michael McKenna reports.

In a slick launch ahead of the January 31 poll, the Premier announced a suite of new funding targeted at seats and voters wavering from their support for the LNP in 2012. Southeast Queensland residents were offered $50 cuts to their water bills and $118 savings for young drivers about to get an open licence.

Mr Newman also announced a LNP government will set aside $1 billion from its proposed privatisation plan to build 23 new schools. The funding is the most expensive commitment of the campaign. The LNP government has already committed almost half the $8.6 billion — set aside for infrastructure fund from the proposed $36 billion of port and electricity assets — in new initiatives, particularly around marginal seats in North Queensland and the Sunshine Coast.

1.12pm: The Labor campaign has jetted from Cairns to Townsville, making it the third visit to the blisteringly hot north Queensland city in the first 13 days of the state election campaign, Sarah Elks reports.

Annastacia Palaszczuk’s repeated visits reveal just how keen Labor is to win back the six marginal north and far north Queensland electorates it lost in the 2012 landslide to Campbell Newman’s Liberal National Party. The LNP’s launch is on in Brisbane today, so Ms Palaszczuk’s strategy appears to be focused on keeping her policy powder dry. There were no new policies announced either yesterday or today.

The first stop in Cairns was Barron Gorge hydro power station — owned by Stanwell, one of the government-owned corporations slated for privatisation under the Newman government. And in Townsville, Ms Palaszczuk will continue her anti-privatisation message, attending a rally in the north Queensland capital The policy difference is the key contrast between the ALP and the LNP ahead of the January 31 poll.


1 comment:

Paul said...

Back in the early 90s the Kennett Government (who actually did do some good things with Health overall) passed a stupid regulation that saw Emergency Departments fined 10,000 off their budget for every patient that waited longer than 24 hours in ED. The real world effect of this was to ensure that if you had passed the magical 24 hour mark you had no hope of getting a bed as you were now considered a financial lost cause and the focus shifted to moving the next patient coming up to 24 hours. The other effect I saw was to see labile psych overdoses lumped in with geriatric orthopaedic patients, regardless of the capacity of the nurses to care safely for them. These days there are more places to put people in order to pretend they've been admitted to wards, when all that's really been done is move patients to "Holding wards/bays/areas" once admission has been deemed necessary. QHealth still does it through its so-called NEAT and NEST targets.