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NIB Health Insurance Boss Slammed For Scrapping Medicare Suggestion

It's been branded the "worst idea ever", with the boss of a private health insurer slammed for suggesting Medicare be scrapped and private insurance be mandatory.

Mark Fitzgibbon, managing director of NIB, wrote a piece for the Australian Financial Review on Tuesday, suggesting the federal public health system be radically overhauled to help private insurers stay afloat.

"[A] sensible policy approach would be to make private health insurance compulsory for all Australians with taxation devoted to subsidising the premiums for those who would otherwise be left behind," Fitzgibbon wrote.

"When Medicare was first introduced in 1974, Australia had more than 10 taxpayers for every retired person. Today there's a bit over five taxpayers and depending on who you believe, by 2050 there will be about three."

The Age newspaper reported that Fitzgibbon later said "We love this word Medicare, it’s like Bambi".

"I don’t want to be seen as the one who wants to shoot Bambi, but I think there’s a better way of delivering universal healthcare which is more efficient and fairer."

Fitzgibbon is the brother of Labor MP for Hunter, Joel. Medicare is held up by Labor as one of the party's greatest policy achievements, having been brought to life in 1975 under Prime Minister Gough Whitlam then expanded in 1984 by PM Bob Hawke -- both ALP leaders.

It comes as health insurers complain of a lack of clients, with young people especially turning away from purchasing private insurance. Australians aged in their 20s with hospital cover dropped nearly 10 percent between 2016 and 2018, a recent Grattan Institute report outlined.

The claimed the private health system had become "riddled with inconsistencies and perverse incentives", and said the system may soon be in a "death spiral" where not enough young people are helping cover the expenses of older, less healthy people.

Over the past five years health insurance premiums have risen an eye-watering 26 percent, far in excess of inflation.

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Mark Fitzgibbon has been slammed by people across the political spectrum, with his brother's party and trade unions taking aim on several social platforms.

Labor MP Brian Mitchell, and former MP Wayne Swan, were among them.

Unions Tasmania called it the "worst idea ever".

Greens senator Jordon Steele-John, and former senators Andrew Bartlett and Scott Ludlam, also criticised him.