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Australian Health Care Essay Assignment
Introduction to health care system in Australia
The Australian Health Care Essay Assignment gives access to a wide range of medical services to all the citizens it is funded through general taxes. The roles and responsibilities of Australian health care system are divided between all levels of government along with a complex interplay of private and public sectors. Its main components are public hospitals, medical services and pharmaceuticals. The government provides subsidies to private hospitals for providing a better treatment to the Australians. Private sector is also growing fast and becoming strong. Australian health care system provides a better life expectancy as compared to other countries. In Australia, both public and private sectors provide health care services, part of this set up are both government and non-government hospitals, health facilties and agencies both public and non-government and private medical practitioners. It provides better environmental factors like clean water, employment and good nutrition to the citizens of Australia. Let’s take few examples of other countries in this context.(Duckett,S,2004)
America has got the most expensive health care system across all nations and at the forefront of clinical research, there are more than 1200 private insurance companies in the nation, and those who are not insured gets free treatment which is funded by government i.e. medical services are publically provided, free treatment is provided to all its citizens and offers health insurance plans for full coverage. All the citizens are provided preventive care and medical treatments as well as easy access to hospitals. (Woolhandler,Campbell,&Himmelstein, D.U,2003)
Funding model and its comparison with other countries
The Australian health care system is largely financed by general taxation. There is specific income tax i.e. “the medicare levy “which comprises a small portion of the total funds. The Australian government provides the maximum contribution in funding the Australian health care system and that fund is known as “the common wealth”. The funding of health care system is a big job and is done jointly by all levels of government. All the services of Australian health care system are jointly funded by the federal government, state, territory and local government, health insurers and individuals. It basically includes the income tax, the medicare levy, private health insurance companies and individual payments. About 70% of the total expenses related to health are done by the Australian government therefore it plays a dominating role in making policies and taking major decisions. (Wade, V., Soar, J., & Gray,L,2014)
According to a study conducted by Bloomberg, a U.S based Media Corporation, Australia is the seventh most efficient health care system in the world and the same study shows that USA ranks as low as fifty in the order of countries. The study is based on three criteria’s which are (i) life expectancy (60%) (ii) Relative per capita cost of health care (30%) (iii) Absolute per capita cost of health care (10%). Australia is among the top countries when it comes to health care system. The life expectancy rate is 81.8 years in Australia. (Donaldson,Gerard,Jan,Mitton,C.& Wiseman, V,2004)
The cost of healthcare is higher in USA which puts pressure on the economy of the country, but the medical facilities are more advanced. Even though the cost is higher but the effectiveness of the overall healthcare is system is on the lower side. The funding for the medical treatment of the people comes from three different sources- private insurance, insurance program of government and personal expenditure done by people on their healthcare.
Private insurance can be bought by the government and non-government, it is mainly prevalent in the case of the employer providing the cover to his employee, this is non-taxable income from the point of view of employee.
Government insurance plans are more inclined towards the vulnerable section of the society, there are programs which are run to take care of the people who are living under poverty line, disabled or elderly etc. about 30% of the people receive the healthcare facilities under this model.
When the insurance either private or government are not available to the public then the expenditure is to be borne by the public, which comes to about 17% of the total polulation.
Tax-Funded National insurance scheme - Medicare
In 1984, Medicare was introduced to provide free of cost treatment in public hospitals and subsidies for medical services. The term Medicare basically means access to hospitals and medical care. Medicare covers almost all Australians. Under the term Medicare, the state and federal government provide funds to the public hospital services which are free for all the citizens of Australia. While seeking admission in a public hospital, the patient can choose between private and public health care treatment. For public patients medical treatment is provided free of cost by the doctors decided by hospital however, private patients can make their choice while selecting the doctor for treatment.Public patient is given full coverage for all the treatments and private patient’s treatment and care are covered by private health insurance. (Brooks,P,1999)
Following are few services which are not covered by Medicare:
- Home nursing
- General dentistry
- Health services like physiotherapy, speech and eye therapy, specific acupuncture etc.
- Cost of medical expenses overseas.
- Services which are not necessary clinically.
- Glasses and Contact lens
- Ambulance services.
Private Health Insurance
In 2007/8 , it was observed that 4 out of 10 admitted patients were treated by private hospitals and approximately 56% of all surgeries were performed in private hospitals. After the advent of Private Health care Insurance Act 2007, the insurers in Australia are allowed to provide various benefits to their clients as a part of Chronic Disease management program, however prior to the introduction of the act, they were not allowed to provide such benefits not even visits to general practitioners. (Colombo,F,&Tapay,N,2003)
Few policies introduced by Federal government are as follows:
Life time health cover (LHC)
It was introduced in the year 2000, the underlying idea was to encourage people to opt to private health insurance.
Medicare Levy surcharge (MLS)
It was designed to encourage people with higher income for taking private hospital cover. In the year 2008, it was decided by government to increase the thresholds for levying medical surcharge.
Any Australian having a private health insurance product with a registered health fund becomes eligible for 30% government funded reductions in the cost of their premium. (Wilcox,S,2001)
The financing and health care system are different in different countries. Australia is a prosperous country with a 20 million diverse population. People of Australia have good health standards with life expectancy on the increasing side and incidences of diseases which are life threating are on lower side. Most of the Australian have an access to health care of high standard which is financed by general taxes. Despite of the various achievements there are some weaknesses also. Dwyer, J. M. (2004).
Australian health care system includes rising health expenditures, lack of co-ordination between different levels of government, long waiting lists for elective surgery, difference in urban and rural service access, and poor health status of Indigenous Australians which comprises of approximately 2.4% of the total population. (Armstrong,Gillespie, Leeders,Rubin,& Russell,2007)
Condition of minorities
The condition of minorities is almost same in all the countries. They share characterizes like low income, poor health and low level of education etc. and health problems are more likely to occur among the minorities because of low nutrition, dirty water, unhealthy environment, unemployment and poor hygienic conditions.Indigenous Australians have a high burden of both infectious and non-infectious diseases, including diabetes therefore we can say that they have poor health conditions.
Maximum countries set goals for reducing their inequality in health like America wanted to eradicate all the inequalities in health by 2010. There were 79% of the African –American who were enjoying the benefit of health insurance in comparison of 88% whites. But this figure was much lesser, 68% in the case of Hispanics and Asian Americans. Similarly , the chronic diseases percentage was much higher in the cases of minorities when compared with white Americans.
Shape up Australia - Preventive health care system in Australia
Preventive health care system was introduced in Australia to prevent, promote and protect the population from various types of diseases rather than spending on treatment related to injury or illness of the citizens. One of the preventive health care system in Australia is “Shape up Australia”. This program was initiated by Australian National Preventive Health Agency for solving the problem of overweight and obesity, which is growing at an alarming rate among the young generation of Australia. “Shape up Australia” tries to encourage the young generation for adopting a better and healthy life style across all levels of government and non-government sectors. The initiative was taken because it is observed that an obese adults life expectancy reduces by 2-4 years in comparison of normal adult. “Shape up Australia” helps people to maintain themselves and stay healthy by motivating them with information and sharing the positive features of a fit and healthy body. (Wilson,Runciman, Gibberd, Harrison, Newby& Hamilton, 1995).
The Australian health care system promotes, restores and maintain the health of its citizens. It is the most affordable, effective, efficient and accessible health care systems in the world i.e. this system is one of the best health care systems. At present Australia has a combination of an aging population, escalatory health cost and increasing chronic diseases, this combination is the current challenge for the Australian health care system. Its goal is to make a balance between public and private health services to provide a free or low cost access for all the citizens of Australia despite of their economic status.
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Armstrong, B. K., Gillespie, J. A., Leeder, S. R., Rubin, G. L., & Russell, L. M. (2007). Challenges in health and health care for Australia. Medical Journal of Australia, 187(9), 485.
Donaldson, C., Gerard, K., Jan, S., Mitton, C., & Wiseman, V. (2004).Economics of health care financing: the visible hand. Palgrave Macmillan.
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