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Constructing health consumers: Private health insurance discourses in Australia and the United Kingdom


Harley, K and Willis, K and Gabe, J and Short, SD and Collyer, F and Natalier, K and Calnan, M, Constructing health consumers: Private health insurance discourses in Australia and the United Kingdom, Health Sociology Review, 20, (3) pp. 306-320. ISSN 1446-1242 (2011) [Refereed Article]

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DOI: doi:10.5172/hesr.2011.20.3.306


The significant transformations of the healthcare services sector over the past three decades have included increased reliance on the private provision of healthcare services, mediated through private health insurance. In countries such as Australia and the UK, private health insurance is promoted as increasing choice for individuals and easing the burden on the public system. While these claims, the policy contexts and individuals’ decision-making processes have attracted some sociological attention, little has been paid to the role of private insurers themselves. In this article we present a comparative analysis of the discourses on the websites of private health insurers in Australia and the UK. Our analysis highlights adoption by private health insurers of neo-liberal discourses of choice and individual responsibility, partnership and healthy lifestyles. In these respects, similarities between the discourses employed in the two national contexts override differences that might be expected due to contrasting healthcare traditions and contexts.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:private health insurance; choice; partnership; lifestyle; discourse analysis; sociology
Research Division:Human Society
Research Group:Sociology
Research Field:Urban sociology and community studies
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Evaluation of health and support services
Objective Field:Health policy evaluation
UTAS Author:Willis, K (Dr Karen Willis)
UTAS Author:Natalier, K (Dr Kristin Natalier)
ID Code:76337
Year Published:2011
Web of Science® Times Cited:30
Deposited By:Sociology and Social Work
Deposited On:2012-03-05
Last Modified:2015-02-23
Downloads:2 View Download Statistics

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