You have told us that out-of-pocket health costs are your major concern.
A Sydney University study, using data gathered by the Australian Bureau of Statistics Household Expenditure Survey, found that household out-of-pocket spending on healthcare rose by more than 25% over a recent 6-year period. Overall household spending on goods and services rose by 15%.
The most expensive cost was private health insurance ($1,744), followed by non-PBS medicines ($585), specialists ($438) and dentists ($396). Spending on GPs was $96.
The biggest percentage rises between 2009–10 and 2015–16 were for health insurance (51% rise), co-payments to ‘other health professionals’ (42% rise), and co-payments to specialists (35% rise).
The study notes that the progressive movement of healthcare costs from public to person has occurred without policy debate, slowly and steadily, via small steps such as freezing Medicare rebates.
The researchers concluded there was no evidence that higher costs produced better quality of care or increased access to care.
“This creeping burden on individuals, challenges our notions of universal healthcare, a fair go, and care based on medical need rather than the depth of your pockets,” Chief Executive of the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association, Alison Verhoeven said.
The study found that out-of-pocket costs were highest among affluent households, especially those holding private health insurance.
Costs were lowest in low-income households, but no data was available on what extent care was skipped because of the cost.
Other studies show, however, that costs weigh most heavily on individuals with low incomes and multiple health problems.
“This drift in out-of-pocket health expenses deserves very serious policy attention before our nation’s health starts to drift downwards”, Ms Verhoeven warned.
The study was published in Australian Health Review, the journal of the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA).