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Australia Healthcare
 
 
 

General

Healthcare in Australia is provided by both private and government institutions. The Australian healthcare system is generally based on a broader perspective as defined by the World Health Organisation (WHO). It not only focus on the physical and mental health of its population, but also on their general state of social well-being. It is serviced by a mixture of public and private healthcare providers.

The Australian government takes a Commonwealth form with six states and two territories. In terms of health, the Commonwealth takes the lead in the development of national health policies, regulations and funding. The states and territories operate in matters not covered by the Commonwealth’s responsibilities, such as the execution, oversight, and regulation of public health services as well as healthcare providers.

Some of the government’s health strategies include the provision of clinical services and programs, improvement of the social, physical, and economic environment of groups or individuals at special risk, the reduction of health risk exposures, capacity building (to enable individuals to exercise control in their environment, thereby making appropriate health choices), and the provision of culturally relevant services.

It is estimated that about 70% of Australia’s healthcare expenditure is funded by the government. The commonwealth shoulders 67% of this cost, covering three national subsidy schemes, Medicare, the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme and a 30% Private Health Insurance Rebate. The remaining 33% is covered by the states and territories.

Australian healthcare has generally improved in the last 10 years. Life expectancy increased to 78 years for males and 83 years for females in 2005. This is one of the highest rates among developed countries. The infant mortality rate is low at 4.3 deaths per 1000 population.

Some of the common health concerns in Australia are skin cancer, heat stroke, obesity, diabetes, dengue fever, and other chronic diseases common in developed countries.

Medicare

Medicare is a National Subsidy Scheme that subsidises services and prescription medicines bought from pharmacies. It provides free treatment in public hospitals. Medicare also provides free or subsidised payments to health professionals for specific services.

Established in 1984, its aim is to provide high quality healthcare that is affordable and accessible to all Australian residents, regardless of their circumstances. For the period of July 2004 to June 2005 there were 20.5 million people who registered for Medicare benefits. There were also approximately 236 million services processed during the same period.

Medicare is financed through progressive income tax and Medicare levies derived from the incomes of Australian residents.

Claiming Medicare benefits can be done in several ways. One method is to pay the doctor’s fee in full and then seek a reimbursement. Another possible method is to request the doctor’s fee in advance from Medicare. Medicare shall issue a check payable to the doctor. Doctors may also deduct the subsidy that will be provided by Medicare from the fees and submit the benefit claim directly to Medicare. Claims can be made through the post or in person at Medicare offices or in designated agencies.

While in Australia, visitors that come from countries where the government has a reciprocal healthcare agreement can avail of Medicare benefits. However, the benefits of the reciprocal agreement do not cover those who come specifically for treatment. Visitors who are not eligible for Medicare can avail of comprehensive health insurance to cover unexpected medical expenses during their stay.


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