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  • Explainer: paying for GP services

    Posted 19/03/2014 by Amanda Biggs
    This post has been revised on the 21st August 2014. 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 Resea... 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • Is $325 million enough for Tasmania's health care system?

    Posted 22/06/2012 by Rebecca de Boer
      Last week, after much speculation, the Federal Government announced that it would provide an extra $325 million over four years to Tasmania’s health care system. Previously the Tasmanian Government had announced cuts of up to $500 million over four years to the health care system, commencing from 1 July 2011. Many of these cuts were directed to elective surgery, reduced services and the closure of hospital beds. The most recent Tasmanian budget (May 2012) announced a reduction of the savings... Read more...

    TAGS: health financing, health system

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  • Reducing elective surgery waiting times - is more money the answer?

    Posted 21/11/2011 by Rebecca de Boer
    Performance of public hospitals is rarely out of the news. Attention is often focussed on elective surgery waiting times or episodes of poor care. Recently there have been reports of ward closures in Victoria and the Tasmanian government has announced cuts to elective surgery in an attempt to balance the budget. Likewise, funding arrangements for hospitals are guaranteed to generate community debate, with more, not less, funding often proposed as the answer. The most recent COAG Reform Council P... Read more...

    TAGS: health financing, hospitals

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  • What can be done about the growing cost of health care in Australia?

    Posted 18/11/2011 by Anne-marie Boxall
     The sustainability of Australia’s health system is becoming a key concern for Australian governments, along with those in many other advanced economies. But, with growing demand for high quality health care, an ageing population and rapid advances in medical technology, what can be done to keep a lid on health expenditure? This recently published Parliamentary Library Research Paper outlines the key mechanisms the Australian government has to control health care spending, and it proposes some p... Read more...

    TAGS: health financing, health reform, health system

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  • Health Insurance in Australia: time for a new debate?

    Posted 20/09/2011 by Anne-marie Boxall
      In July 2011 the Government re-introduced its Fairer Private Health Insurance Incentives legislation into the House of Representatives; for an overview of the history of this legislation, see here. The Bills have not yet been debated. The key changes proposed by this legislation are: a means-test on tax-funded rebates for private health insurance (PHI) for those on incomes above a specified threshold, and; a higher Medicare Levy Surcharge for people on high incomes who choose not to purchase... Read more...

    TAGS: health financing, health reform, Medicare, private health insurance

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