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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Australian Private Health Insurance Boom: Was It Subsidies Or Liberalised?


Over the period 1997 to 2000, the Australian government introduced two waves of price subsidies, then liberalised regulation to encourage private health insurance. Most of the increase in coverage occurred after the liberalization. Thus, it appears that this policy change rather than the earlier subsidies, explains most of the increase. We explore the relative impact of the different policy changes using trend analysis and careful attention to timing. While much of the increase in coverage may be attributed to liberalised regulation, the price subsidy did increase coverage. The increase was commensurate with existing estimates of the price elasticity of demand for health insurance.

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