New report shows the Australians missing out on health care

Primary care needs an overhaul to ensure all Australians get the best health care.

Health system neglects vulnerable

Primary care policy needs an overhaul to ensure all Australians – especially the poor and the elderly – get the best possible health care, according to a new Grattan Institute report.

The new report, Mapping Primary Care in Australia, shows many poorer Australians can’t afford to go to a GP when they need to or a dentist when they should, and people in rural and remote areas find it too hard to get to a pharmacist or medical specialist.

Australians’ access to general practice varies according to their wealth. Two-thirds of patients are bulk-billed for all their visits to the GP, but the financial barriers for those who are not can be high.

About four per cent of Australians say they delay seeing a GP because of the cost.

Individuals or their private health insurer have to pay for the bulk of dental care. As a result, about one in five Australians do not get the recommended level of oral health care.

Worse still, people on low incomes who can’t afford to pay often wait for years to get public dental services.

Access to allied health services such as physiotherapy and podiatry varies significantly according to where people live.

People in the Northern Territory are about four times less likely to use Medicare-funded allied health services than Victorians.

The report finds that the funding, organisation and management of primary care has not kept pace with changes to disease patterns, the economic pressure on health services, and technological advances.

In particular, primary care services are not organised well enough to support integrated, comprehensive care for the 20 per cent of Australians who have complex and chronic conditions.

Nor is primary care well organised to prevent or reduce the incidence of conditions such as type 2 diabetes and obesity.

Governance and accountability are split between various levels of government and numerous separate agencies, making overall management of the system difficult. Neither the Commonwealth nor the states take the lead.

The report also calls for:

  • A comprehensive national primary care policy framework to improve prevention and patient care.
  • Formal agreements between the Commonwealth, the states and Primary Health Networks to improve management of the primary care system.
  • New funding, payment and organisational arrangements to provide better long-term care for the increasing number of older Australians who live with complex and chronic conditions, and to help keep populations healthy in the first place.

Do you ever avoid seeing a GP or your dentist because of the cost? Do you find it difficult to find affordable health services where you live?

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    COMMENTS

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    jackie
    31st Jul 2018
    10:26am
    My policy is to avoid dentists and doctors as much as possible. Look after yourself through diet and exercise for preventative measures. All insurance policies are self serving and don't have the best interests of their customers. Insurance companies inflate the cost of dental and medical services. Their recent involvement with the pet industry is a shining example of this. They are there to take but never give.
    chrissie
    31st Jul 2018
    10:56am
    Good idea to look after yourself with diet an exercise but as you get older you may need to see a doctor or other health professional. Something is going to get you eventually and hopefully it can be a quick release or curable. I agree a lot of insurance is a total rip iff but we do need it. I pay a lot for health, home, car insurance but thank goodness can afford it due to excellent super and and a job, which although spending about 6 years at university, was well worth the struggle in my 20s. I am now nearly 80 and still travelling. Keep smiling and be kind to each other.
    Kathleen
    31st Jul 2018
    11:52am
    Nice comments! I too choose to pay private health because you never know. Some things are hereditary and some are just plain bad luck like cancer. One can never judge or be sure. Glad you still travel and have a good life. Being positive is part of being healthy. We all do the best we can!
    tisme
    31st Jul 2018
    11:01am
    ive been waiting 4 years to see a dentist
    Kathleen
    31st Jul 2018
    11:54am
    Why? Cost or cannot find one? I don’t think we need to go every six months as that is costly. Teeth can cause other health issues unfortunately. I have lost a few through autoimmune issues.
    Old Geezer
    31st Jul 2018
    4:32pm
    Why? I ring up and can get in the next day most times.

    31st Jul 2018
    3:33pm
    Australia has a shortage of health care professionals in a lot of areas. Small towns in the inland have none and people need to travel to larger centres. Coastal towns may not have enough, causing people to travel to larger towns to get medical help. Perhaps a government could consider subsidising medical professionals to move to areas where there is a need and make it more viable to practice.

    The people who cannot afford health care make up a very small percentage of the population and, sadly, there will always be a group of people who will be disadvantaged regardless of what is planned to help. The reasons for a lack of funds can be many and varied ranging from an inability to budget, a messy divorce, a gambling habit, alcoholism or lack of employment.

    31st Jul 2018
    4:48pm
    he medical and dental system is falling apart under this inept Lieberal government.
    Anonymous
    1st Aug 2018
    7:19pm
    typical reply of knows-nothing who never comes up with a guidance, direction, etc of how to fix a problem, yet brainwashed, waking up and going to sleep with these words being repeated over and over by his teachers "this inept lieberal government falling apart", knows-a-lot, can't be blamed for being just dumb, dumber or dumbest in these columns after all some people just can't think for themselves!
    *Loloften*
    31st Aug 2018
    10:29pm
    Stopped going to my dentist as all I wanted/needed was a clean - didn't help (after $100+ & just 15mins) as used what was electric scapping, only lasted fora mth a 2 (enamel damage).


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