The public health system has been under continued criticism for some time but the intensity has been turned up recently, with allegations that public health is out of touch with what people really need. A collection of different health groups: the Midwifery Federation the Consumers Health Forum, and Catholic Health Australia claim that, in light of the large, ageing population, and the increase in chronic disease, the system needs a complete shake up.
According to the group, the public system is losing its ability to provide quality care for lower income members of society. They also said that the local market was paying exorbitant out of pocket fees, some of the highest in OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries. The data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare revealed that out of pocket costs had virtually doubled, between 2000 and 2010, from $583 to $1,075. The overall OECD average was $981.
So, where does all the money go? Well, 40% is currently contributed to medication, 12%for services like visits to the doctor, 19% for dental treatments and 10% for health aids such as wheel chairs. Another 7% went to other medical services such as podiatry and physiotherapy. Private and public hospital fees contributed 5% each. It is quite a neat budget, one has to admit, but, it does not stretch far enough.
And, while some may argue that the co payments and out of pocket costs are affordable, you have to remember that this is only the case when you are a relatively healthy person. If you get sick often, or are diagnosed with a chronic disease, the costs become ongoing too.
Significantly, new data reflects that a large percentage of women in the ACT have decided to have their babies in public health facilities. Why? Because the costs of private cover have become too expensive for them, they say. The experts recommend that all those in search of coverage they can actually afford should run a private health insurance comparison.
As far as the ageing population is concerned, some say that older people are really not getting the level of treatment they require from the system, especially in light of the extent that life expectancies have increased by.
Surprisingly, once you reach the age of 70, you are no longer required to have your annual screening tests or check ups. Procedures like mammograms and colonoscopies are no longer pre-requisites for you because, should you start developing a cancer at this stage of your life, you will probably live to the average life expectancy anyway.
So, how much of a concern is the current health situation? Pretty considerable, say new analytics from the world’s largest search engine. They say that voters are far more likely to search for terms related to the public health system and private insurance rebates than whether the national broadband network will be set in their homes.
According to the search engine data there were more enquiries for Disability Care and the public system than there were for searches related to families, education, economy, marriage equality and climate change.
Experts say the analytics show what residents’ biggest concerns are in different parts of the country, and the results are very interesting. People living in Western Australia and Queensland listed more searches for jobs and tax and interest rates than other states while Victoria and South Australia showed greater preference for health and issues related to families. Tasmania and New South Wales locals were searching the most for the national broadband network and connectivity.
The top searches, in order of priority were: health care, economy, education, broadband, families, climate change and marriage equality.