While there are many who have strong ideological objections to the use of taxpayers' money to subsidise private health insurance, the issue is not as black and white as it seems.
How much would the Medicare levy be, and at what income rate would it have to kick in, if private insurance folded and the public health sector had to take up the slack?
These questions, and the debate surrounding them, are now more topical than ever thanks to a Grattan Institute report that warned private health insurance is on the verge of a "death spiral" in which young and healthy people pull out, leaving only older, unhealthier and much more expensive users.
This issue is particularly pertinent to Canberra given the ACT, thanks in large part to its high average income, has the highest take up of private cover in the country. More than 55 per cent of residents have hospital cover and almost 67 per cent have extras cover. This compares to national averages of 45.6 per cent and 54.6 per cent respectively.
Critics of the private health insurance sector also need to be mindful of claims by Private HealthCare Australia chief executive, Rachel David, that if the national participation rate was to drop from 45 per cent to 30 per cent there would be an additional 10 million people on hospital waiting lists for both elective and essential but non-emergency surgery across the country.
Ms David is correct when she asserts the private health sector has an important role to play in taking the pressure off public hospitals and the public health sector.
Even privately insured patients who seek treatment in a public hospital but who tick the "private cover" box help to relieve the burden on the taxpayer.
The cost of their procedures, which would otherwise be billed to Medicare, are paid by the private insurer. This is, in itself, an excellent argument to help older Australians; the ones who will likely require expensive and complex medical treatments and technological innovations, with incentives to keep their private cover for as long as possible.
All that said, the private health funds have been their own worst enemies for longer than most people would care to remember.
A recent example was the revelation earlier this month that two major insurers, Bupa and NIB, had repeatedly denied claimants benefits on the basis of so-called "pre-existing conditions" without applying the mandatory checks and balances.
The apparently bloody minded application of sometimes outdated, and in other cases seemingly deliberately disingenuous, definitions in order to refuse claimants benefits they should reasonably have been entitled to is another.
Then, of course, there is the ongoing issue of the gap fees and charges which mean a privately insured individual can end up wearing thousands of dollars in unfunded costs that would not apply to someone who had undergone the same procedure as a public patient.
This is arguably the biggest disincentive driving young and healthy individuals out of the private insurance system. Why pay for something you are less likely to use than most people and which, when you do, is going to cost you even more money?
Why pay for something you are less likely to use than most people?
These are just some of the inconsistencies that need to be addressed if private health insurance is to survive. The alternative would leave the taxpayer to carry the entire cost burden of the national health system.
If that were to occur the levy of between one and 1.5 per cent (depending on income) might need to be increased.
The threshold of $90,000 a year for singles and $180,000 for families might also need to be lowered.
Those who would welcome the collapse of the current system should be careful what they wish for.