Health Minister Greg Hunt has stressed the government will never dump Medicare after the head of one of Australia's largest private health insurers suggested it could do just that.
NIB's managing director Mark Fitzgibbon used an opinion piece in the Australian Financial Review to suggest the government should instead make private health insurance compulsory.
But he believes the government should pay the premiums of those who can't afford them, achieving a more affordable healthcare system as the nation's population ages.
"It's hardly a radical proposition when you consider Medicare is itself a compulsory 'social insurance' system. It's not as if you or I can opt out of Medicare," Mr Fitzgibbon wrote on Tuesday.
"And no different to the approach taken by many 'left-leaning' European governments that don't feel it necessary to actually run a health insurance system to ensure cost-effectiveness and fairness."
Mr Hunt alluded to the proposition, saying there is no such change in the works.
"I did see one comment today questioning Medicare, and I have to say clearly and categorically that we reject that proposition: clearly, categorically and absolutely," he told reporters in Canberra.
"We are committed to it (Medicare) for life, forever.
"But equally, we're committed to private health insurance. Both of those elements are part of the model that best serves Australians."
Australian Associated Press