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  • Explainer: paying for GP services

    Posted 19/03/2014 by Amanda Biggs
    Recently the debate around healthcare has focused on paying for GP services. The proposal for a patient co-payment is one example. Other proposals include capitation, blended payments and managed care. Arguments over the best funding models for primary care may appear to have little relevance for most patients, but how we fund primary care services can impact on the quality of care, as explained in this paper from the Primary Health Care Research & Information Service (PHCRIS). Currently, m... Read more...

    TAGS: health financing, health policy

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  • How much does Medicare cost?

    Posted 21/02/2014 by Amanda Biggs
    The Treasurer, Mr Hockey said on Channel Seven’s Sunrise program on 21 February 2014, that the cost of Medicare was going to soon rise from $65 billion a year to $75 billion a year. However, the official transcript later clarified this to include other federal health expenditure. Seeing Medicare in the context of these wider figures, it is evident the actual cost of Medicare is considerably lower. According to Budget Paper no. 1 (2013–14) spending on Medicare for the cur... Read more...

    TAGS: Medicare, health financing

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  • Evidence around GP co-payments and over servicing

    Posted 19/02/2014 by Amanda Biggs
    One argument forwarded in support of the recent proposal to impose a co-payment for GP visits is that it has the potential to reduce ‘over servicing’, and therefore overall health costs. Over servicing occurs where an unnecessary medical intervention is provided. Imposing a consumer co-payment on the cost of visiting a doctor will encourage patients to avoid unnecessary visits, thus reducing over servicing and saving the health system money, argue advocates of co-payments. But what i... Read more...

    TAGS: Medicare, health financing

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  • Medicare at 30

    Posted 30/01/2014 by Amanda Biggs
    Medicare, Australia's universal health insurance scheme marks its 30th anniversary on 1 February 2014. For 30 years Australians have had free public hospital treatment and subsidised medical services; free if the doctor bulk bills. Medicare is part-funded by a 1.5% levy on income tax (which meets around half its cost) and general taxation. In 2012–13, spending on Medicare totalled $18.5 billion. This makes Medicare the third most expensive government program after the Age Pension and family payments. Read more...

    TAGS: health financing, Medicare

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  • Food Allergy Week 2013

    Posted 10/05/2013 by Nigel Brew
    Image source: US National Library of Medicine
    This week (13–19 May 2013) is national Food Allergy Week, organised by Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia (A&AA), a non-profit allergy advocacy and support group now in its 20th year. Reflecting what is sometimes referred to as the ‘allergy epidemic’, Australia has one of the highest reported rates of food allergy in the world. Current research suggests that one in ten 12 month old infants in Australia has a food allergy, and according to A&AA, ‘life threatening allergic reactions (an... Read more...

    TAGS: food, health

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  • Health spending: patients bearing higher costs

    Posted 2/05/2013 by Amanda Biggs
    Recent reports have highlighted the growing cost of health services and the increasing financial burden on individuals. According to data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) Australia spent more than $130 billion on health in 2010–11, or around 9.3% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Around 70% of this was spending by Government—the Commonwealth and the states and territories combined, through programs such as Medicare, public hospital services and the Pharmaceutical Benefit... Read more...

    TAGS: health financing, health reform, Medicare

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  • World Health Day: highlighting blood pressure

    Posted 9/04/2013 by Amanda Biggs
    World Health Day, marking the establishment of the World Health Organisation (WHO) is celebrated on 7 April each year. It was on this day that the WHO was established in 1948. To mark World Health Day, the WHO nominates a priority area of global public health as the theme for World Health Day: this year the theme is controlling high blood pressure. According to WHO, high blood pressure (also called hypertension) affects more than one in three adults worldwide. Complications from high blood press... Read more...

    TAGS: health risks, World Health Organisation

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  • The missing billion? Revisions to health funding not unprecedented

    Posted 1/02/2013 by Rebecca de Boer
    Part of Australian health policy folklore is the claims and counter claims about health financing that endure between State and Commonwealth governments as well as between Government and Opposition. Perhaps the most famous example was the claim in 2003-04 by the then Opposition that Tony Abbott ‘ripped one billion from public hospitals’, which still persists today.The release of the 2012-13 Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO) at the end of last year reignited the debate about health fun... Read more...

    TAGS: federal state relations, health financing

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  • Hunger strike on Nauru

    Posted 5/11/2012 by Rebecca de Boer
    Image source: DIAC newsroom
    The hunger strike which commenced on Nauru on 1 November is continuing. Initial reportswere that 170 people were participating although more recent estimates by the Refugee Action Coalition suggest around 300. Commencement of the hunger strike was in responseto the attempted suicide on October 31 and in protest to the lack of certainty about when processing will begin. This follows previous reports of self harm on Nauru and suicide attempts (see reports from 11 October, confirmed by the Departme... Read more...

    TAGS: asylum, health

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  • Australians eat poorly, are overweight and unfit: but it’s not all bad news

    Posted 1/11/2012 by Amanda Biggs
    Image: City of Tea Tree Gully
    The Australian Health Survey, a regular survey of Australia's health, shows that most Australian adults have a poor diet, are either overweight or obese and don’t get enough exercise. These unhealthy habits put us at greater risk of a range of adverse health outcomes including the development of serious diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.The first results, released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics on 29 October 2012, cover health status, health risk factors and long term health co... Read more...

    TAGS: health risks, statistics

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