Waiting times for elective surgery and the demand for private care - this is the long title and will appear in the featured text format.

Reducing public hospital waiting times is a central issue in the Australian healthcare debate. Subsidies to private health insurance and increased expenditures to shorten waiting times both aim to ease pressure on the public hospital system. However, there is no empirical evidence to support the relative fairness or effectiveness of alternative policies.

The project’s first aim is to develop an empirical model of expected waiting times and to estimate the impact of waiting times on insurance purchase and hospital choice. It will also for the first time provide evidence of the impact of waiting on subsequent health outcomes. The model will be used to evaluate the effectiveness of alternative policies attempting to improve access to public hospital care, a key factor in the National Priority of promoting and maintaining good health. Additionally, investigators intend to quantify the importance of achieving reductions in waiting time in terms of future health system utilisation and health expenditures.