My old boss Ian Morrison has been in Australia studying the health care system. I’m sure this was a work visit for him with neither a bar nor a golf course in sight. He did though come back with a pretty interesting view of their changing system, called Aussie, Aussie, Aussie which is basically a British style NHS with a robust private insurance sector layered on top of it.
The only thing I’m not so sure of is why the government—any government for that matter—would want to give people a tax break to buy private health insurance. (They do it in the UK too, BTW). Unless of course the politicians concerned planned to amakudari into private health plans later. Anyone looking at the US experience knows that exempting health insurance spending (and mortgage spending) from taxation means that we spend too much money on health care (and houses). The only place I’ve ever seen that tax break successfully taken away was in the UK, where the tax break for mortgage payments was phased out in the late 1980s. Of course it didn’t stop house prices from going up there too, but there’s no need to encourage it.
Still in general, like the French, the Aussies have got to a mix that most Americans outside of the Cato Institute could probably live with. Pity we can’t have it here.