Philip Kouvelis, 66, has been insured with the same company since 1980.
He pays $800 a quarter but he hasn't drawn on the policy for anything beyond dental work and acupuncture and similar treatments for aches and pains.
The private insurance is there but he resents the cost. "I don't think I'm getting value for money," he said.
When he retires, Mr Kouvelis thinks he will stop the private insurance, partly because the pressure and stress of his job selling property at his Garran real-estate business will have gone.
His sparring partner, helping him keep fit on the banks of Lake Burley Griffin, also has health insurance even though he is only 31. Oliver Wiederkehr said that his physical job as a trainer put him at risk. "Muscle and joint injuries are fairly common in my line of work," he said.
A lack of enthusiasm for private health insurance was common in the ACT as experts and lay people digested the report on Australian health care by the Grattan Institute. The authors referred to an "unhappy mix" of public and privatised health care, which had led to a system "riddled with inconsistencies and perverse incentives".
Across the states and territories, figures show that half the ACT population has insurance for hospital treatment, the joint highest proportion of people in any of the states or territories. For "ancillary" treatment, two thirds are insured, far higher than in any other part of the country except Western Australia.
But despite the high proportion of Canberrans choosing to pay for access to the private system, many use the public system when they can.
Sometimes it's to avoid waiting times for non-emergency treatment. It's also because the ACT has public hospitals and doctors in which Canberrans have confidence, according to Darlene Cox, the director of the Healthcare Consumers Association. Canberrans buy private but like public.
On top of that, she says the cost of going private remains high because the insurance policy is unlikely to cover all the treatment bills.
Electrician Josh Williams pays $180 a fortnight for private cover for himself, his wife and three kids but finds that he doesn't always use it, and not just because of cost. "Even with health insurance we've gone through the public system because it's quicker," he said.
The higher cost of taking out health insurance after the age of 30 pushed him to get private cover. It's one of the government incentives designed to persuade younger people (who might imagine that youth and health are infinite) to get insured - though the report indicates it isn't doing its job sufficiently.
Canberra faces the same dilemma as the rest of the country - but turbo-charged because so many people have private insurance in a very mixed public-private system. Private insurance was meant to relieve the burden on publicly provided health care, available to all.
Those tensions will get more acute if young people continue to shun private insurance, according to Brenda Gannon, professor of health economics at the University of Queensland.
The shortfall of revenue for the service as a whole would mean either higher taxes or lower standards.
"Nothing is for free," she said.