The scene for change has been set. But will the health minister act?
We start 2016 with big challenges for the health system and uncertainty as to how governments will meet them.
A significant proportion of the growth in Medicare costs has been driven by government policies such as items for new services and larger rebates.
The Coalition tried to justify its failed GP co-payment as an attempt to rein in consumers, who were driving the increase in Medicare costs. Turns out government policy was mostly to blame.
Consumers are often unclear about the benefits and exclusions.
Anyone who has purchased private health insurance or thought about changing policies knows the system is complex and confusing.
Australia’s century-old federation is under strain.
If Australia’s new prime minister wishes to lead a successful 21st-century government, he must tackle the rise in chronic disease and use data to constantly improve the system.
Public hospital funding is in a critical condition.
Any health reform proposals should start by addressing public hospitals and chronic care. But successful change in these areas requires getting the state-Commonwealth funding and incentives right.
GP attendances make up just one-third of Medicare expenditure.
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Cutting Medicare rebates for GPs affects us all, whereas in-hospital private patient rebates, which only benefit the better-off, are ripe for the razor gang.
Health Minister Sussan Ley has said the government’s consultations did not include a co-payment or a proposal to examine one.
After an extensive round of consultations with health professionals and patients, Health Minister Sussan Ley has announced that yet more work needs to be done to find solutions to Medicare's problems.
The government is effectively undermining the power of Medicare as a single payer and the role of Medicare as a universal provider.
In the final instalment of our series, Lesley Russell asks whether Australians need private health insurance, and what a two-tiered systems means for quality, access and equity.
Medicare and private health insurance partly overlap for hospital entitlements. But nobody can purchase full coverage for health-care costs.
Any new such financing system would need to carefully balance competition and choice, with affordability of coverage and equal access to quality care.
Private health insurance is an expensive way to fund health care.
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Private insurance, by its very nature, suppresses price signals and encourages over-servicing and cost escalation.
The relationship between private health insurance and Medicare has been a problem since the Whitlam government introduced universal health care.
Some people balk at the cost of private insurance – especially the relatively young and healthy – because they don't see the value of it when they are already covered under Medicare.
How much do Australians pay for private health insurance?
Dental care is the most-used private health insurance ancillary service.
All Australian residents have access to Medicare, so why do half the population also decide to take out private health insurance?
New modelling shows the Medicare rebate freeze will leave GPs A$8.43 worse off per consultation.
With GPs facing greater economic pressure and the health minister considering legislative change to make it easier for GP to charge them, GP co-payments, like Lazarus, may rise again from the dead.
Very high GP attenders cost Medicare an average of A$3,202 in 2012-13, compared to an Australian average of A$690.
As well as being responsible for a large share of total costs, people who visit the GP more often are more likely to live in the most disadvantaged areas, and to report being in poor health.
How has Medicare spending changed in the last decade?
AAP Image/Joel Carrett
Health Minister Sussan Ley is broadly correct on the numbers – but they are framed in a way that overstates the impression of rising health care expenditure.
Discussions about Medicare’s sustainability under the Abbott government have only concerned how much we spend on the health sector.
The Abbott government “reset” yesterday provides a valuable opportunity to reconsider health policies based on the idea that Australia’s health system is unsustainable. But first it will need to embrace…
Non-concession patients may end up paying a A$30 to A$40 co-payment, not a A$5 one.
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We need a plan to provide patients with the right care at the right place in the right time.
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Medicare reform must focus on increasing value, not just cutting costs.
World Bank Photo Collection/Flickr
The primary care reform debate of the last 15 months got off on the wrong foot. It was framed in terms of cutting government spending, with an overlay that consumers needed to bear the brunt of system…