Wednesday, September 29

I'm for outside-the-square solutions

School bonuses are outside-the-square

The Liberal party thinks it's a good idea to give money directly to P&C
groups to fund schools instead of to state governments? That's not
nearly outside-the-square enough for me! The Liberal government gave a
'baby bonus' to new mums, right? So why not give every parent of a
school age child an annual education bonus, but instead of getting that
cash in their hands (which they'd only spend on a new TV or a holiday
on the Gold Coast), make them choose a school to award it to.

Then replace the current school funding system with a government
contribution of a flat $/student amount, whether the school is public
or private. Let the schools compete for school bonus awards on merits,
marketing, or whatever they find works best for them. Let the parents
choose whether they want to put that amount each year towards a private
or public school of their choice.

It wouldn't just put public and private schools on a level playing
field for the first time, it would blow away the distinction between
public and private schools altogether.

If it works, apply it to hospitals too!

Ditto hospitals. It's a bit more complex because sometimes healthcare
can be life-threatening, but if people really want the choice of public
or private healthcare, let them make the funding decisions for
themselves. Keep nothing but the Medicare brand, and out of the money
usually spent on Medicare each year, give them a lump sum X$/year to
assign to the hospital of their choice, X$/year as a fixed health
insurance subsidy to the fund of their choice, X$/year to assign to the
GP of their choice, and $X/year that can be split up on a per-use basis
to spend on specialists, ancillary, pharmaceuticals, etc. Once the
money's run out, they have to pay for any additional health costs they
incur. Any additional health insurance you want you have to pay for

My bet is people will probably spend their money with the hospital
which is closest to them, which ought to re-adjust the funding problems
neatly so that the best hospitals service the most people, and people
in regional Australia make sure they don't live too far from the
medical services they need - nobody's forcing them to live out in the

My guess is suddenly a lot of specialists will discover they're
overpricing themselves and introduce more affordable pricing, people
will reward the best GPs on merit, and health insurance funds will
finally have to make financial sense rather than survive on legislated
compulsory payments.

It'll take some getting used to, and it won't always work perfectly the
first time, but fuck it, I'm for outside the square thinking!

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