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Introduction

The health care system of a country is the policy of the government which tends to provide the residents of the country with the service of assessing the requirements of the public in terms of medical care and providing it to them. Health care system is simply defined as the organization of different entities and groups which results in provision of medical care to the public. The following discusses the effectiveness of the health care system in Australia, and the efficiency with which it operates. The different components of the healthcare system are also discussed in terms of the role they play in providing the heal care service ion the region.

Equity in the Australian Health Care System

The health care system in Australia is founded on the basis that it is made accessible to everyone in the region with an equal right to avail the medical care facility. The Australian government has been able to establish equality of access and dissemination of the health care service to the masses by signing up with Medicare. As of 1984, Medicare a healthcare insurance coverage provider, in collaboration with the Australian government “provides universal coverage for citizens, permanent residents, and visitors from countries which have reciprocal arrangements with Australia” (‘The Health Care System and Health Policy in Australia’, 2008)

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The main purpose of this policy is to provide the masses of the region with universal access to the health care facilities being provided in the public sector. However the individuals in the public are free to choose form private healthcare establishments as well. The healthcare system in Australia and the universal insurance coverage is supported by the taxes levies on the residents of Australia as well as through a Medicare based tax levies on the income of the individuals in the region. However the governments of Australia as well as its different territories take on the responsibility of funding and financing the entire health care system in the region

“Recent comparative evidence from OECD countries suggests that Australia’s mixed public–private health system does a good job in ensuring high and fairly equal access to doctor, hospital and dental care services.” (Van Doorslaer, et al, 2008) This result however is comparative in terms of the health care system and the policy of the OECD countries and the country of Australia. A study in conducted in 2008 published din Health Policy revealed, that while the public as well as the private sector based healthcare system is made accessible and available to the general population in Australia, a horizontal inequality does exist, which is created by the people of Australia themselves. The richer and more affluent people individuals in Australia seek expensive treatment in high end private medical universities which are not covered by the Australian health policy.

This causes a discrepancy in the medical facility accessible to the general public and the selected groups of affluent people in Australia on the basis of their income and finances. Despite, this Australian health policy and the healthcare promotes equality, making it possible for everyone to have access to quality based health care facility and service in the region. Recent comparative evidence from OECD countries suggests that Australia’s mixed public–private health system does a good job in ensuring high and fairly equal access to doctor, hospital and dental care services. This paper provides some further analysis of the same data from the Australian National Health Survey for 2001 to examine whether the general finding of horizontal equity remains when the full potential of the data is realized.

We extend the common core cross-country comparative analysis by expanding the set of indicators used in the procedure of standardizing for health care need differences, by providing a separate analysis for the use for general practitioner and specialist care and by differentiating between admissions as public and private patients. Overall, our analysis confirms that in 2001 Medicare largely did seem to be attaining an equitable distribution of health care access: Australians in need of care did get to see a doctor and to be admitted to a hospital. However, they were not equally likely to see the same doctor and to end up in the same hospital bed. As in other OECD countries, higher income Australians are more likely to consult a specialist, all else equal, while lower income patients are more likely to consult a general practitioner.

The unequal distribution of private health insurance coverage by income contributes to the phenomenon that the better-off and the less well-off do not receive the same mix of services. There is a risk that – as in some other OECD countries – the principle of equal access for equal need may be further compromised by the future expansion of the private sector in secondary care services. To the extent that such inequalities in use may translate in inequalities in health outcomes, there may be some reason for concern

Effectiveness in the Australian Health Care System

The health policy in Australia is focused on striving to provide the masses with a quality healthcare system which is cost effective in terms of the treatment, the provision of medicine and drugs as well as providing health education. IN order to control costs and make the system available to everyone, the government has signed collaboration suits with the pharmaceuticals whereby the drugs provided by the health care system to the public are accessed for their safety, usability, and their effectiveness in terms of functionality as well as their cost effectiveness. “Medicines and pharmaceuticals are directly subsidized by the Commonwealth Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS). The PBS provides subsidies for about 600 kinds of drugs in nearly 1,500 formulations. Additional drugs are added when assessed as meeting safety, quality, effectiveness, and cost-effectiveness criteria. Most people are required to make a co-payment for subsidized pharmaceuticals.” (‘The Health Care System and Health Policy in Australia’, 2008)

The health care system for Australia is effective in terms of the services provide to the people, the access the masses have to the system and the process by which it is funded. The cots effectiveness of the healthcare system in Australia has been prominent until recently, as the increasing prices as per the CPI and the rising inflation and taxes are squeezing the disposable income of the masses. Moreover the increasing prices in the OECD countries are also affecting the cost effectiveness of the Australian health care system. The pressures that are being faced by the health care system in Australia operation to environmental pressures, globalization, ideological shifts in the entities involved, regional alignments as well as the increasing number of privatization for health care facilities.

The increasing discrepancy between the health care system available to the masses, and the being utilized by the select elite groups is also increasing the orientation of the pharmaceutical companies, and doctors to take up practice in the private sector. A standardized health care system is important as it aptly controls health of the masses in a region; however the increasing discrepancies are giving rise to the ineffectiveness in the Australian healthcare system which needs to be curbed in the future.

Efficiency in the Australian Health Care System

Health care is one of the most significant contributors to the GDP for Australia, averaging at 8.5% of the GDP for the country. Aside from this it is one of the most skill intensive fields. The Australian also tends to utilize their medical facilities, the doctors and the hospitals, on a recorded highly statistical basis. This makes the investment of the government of Australia efficient in the health care policy and system for the region. Over the period of years through observation and research, it has been determined that the efficiency of a healthcare system is highly dependent on the funding of the health service by public funds, as opposed to funding it with  public funds or by subsiding the private service to make it accessible to the masses. The healthcare system in Australia is different as it tends to make use of both methods; employing the funds generated form taxes as well as the government revenues and funds for improving public health care while also subsidizing the private health care for making it accessible to the general public.

The efficiency of the Australian healthcare system however lies with the accessibility it provides to the general public, the low cost of availing the health care facilities, the well developed health care system as well as in the skilled workforce involved in the Australian health care sector and the healthcare system. The recent policies of the Australian government can have a detrimental impact on the efficiency of the health care system in the region. This is because the health policy allows the individuals amongst the general public to access and attain high quality health care fir a high price form private facilities.

This can increase the orientation of the skilled health care staff to enter the private sector, therefore making the healthcare system in Australia ineffective and inefficient. Aside from this the “inappropriate prescribing or over-use of pharmaceuticals is a major source of inefficiency. Not only is the direct expenditure wasteful, drug misadventures are estimated to account for a substantial proportion of hospital admissions, readmissions and nursing home admissions” (‘MEDICARE FACT SHEET 4’, 2001) Moreover it is also argues that allocation of resources to the healthcare system and the lack of investment in disease prevention and research (Armstrong, 1997) can also be inefficient for the healthcare system in the future.

Inter-relationships in the Australian Health Care System

The Australian health care system is based on the coordination of the different entities which form the public health care system in the region. These entities pertain to the skilled staff, the doctors and physicians, the health care providers, the government as well as Medicare. The health care system in Australia revolves around the associations, the inter-relationships and the interactions of the mentioned groups with each other to form an effective and an efficient health care system for the public.

The skilled staff pertains to the technicians, assistants, suppliers, delivery people as well as the nurses. It is an important component of the health care system as it provides support to the system and provides the bulk of the service availed form the system by the public. The Australian government has implemented specific measures by which it provides incentives as well as remuneration for the skilled staff enrolled in the public health care system. The government has extensively invested in acquiring, training and maintaining the resource of the skilled staff for the health care facilities under its health care system by being cost effective as well as promoting the health care profession. As a result the health care sector forms about 8.5 percent of the contribution to the GDP for Australia

The Australian health care system works closely in collaboration with the public and the private sector doctors, surgeons and physicians who provide health care services the pubic through the system. The medical personal pertaining to doctors and surgeons are requested to charge the fee for the treatment and the service provided in up to the limit of the insurance coverage for the customers in the public health care system therefore enabling the customer’s not to pay any costs out of their pockets. These charges are billed to the Medicare Company which covers them through the insurance tax levied on the residents of Australia.

The third entity in the health care systems Medicare, the insurance company, which provides health care coverage to all the residents of Australia as per the health care program. The company is the key component of the system as the equality in terms of access to the health care facilities as well as the high heath percentage of the population is directly dependent on the services provided by Medicare to the government of Australia. “Until recently Medicare benefits were only payable in respect of serviced delivered by medical practitioners but they are now also available in defined circumstances to patients who use practice-based nursing, psychology, dental and other allied health services. Generally such services must be delivered as part of a planned program of care, and specifically requested by the patient’s physician, before a benefit can be paid.” (‘The Health Care System and Health Policy in Australia’, 2008) Medicare is highly involved with the government of Australia for the funding as well as the delivery of the health care facility making it the basis of the health care system offering to the general public.

The general public is also highly involved in the healthcare system and its delivery and effectiveness as the demand and requirements claimed by them are analyzed by the government in terms of their up-to-date needs for health care services which results in the consequent provision of such services through the health care system in the region. Moreover as of late, they are also responsible for the increased discrepancy in the private and the public sector offering, with the choice they depict for high end, expensive private facilities resulting in inefficiency and inequality of access to the health care system in Australia.

The most critical role however played by the government of Australia which is responsible for the development of the health policy and the implementation of it in the region. Aside form providing a uniform health care system in the region which is accessible by all, the government has also worked in collaboration with the Medicare Company to make healthcare affordable for all its citizens. Aside from this the government has also greatly subsidized the private sector making its affordable to the public while also providing extensive subsidies to the drugs and medicine suppliers.

The above mentioned entities play an important role in collaborating with each other to form the healthcare system in Australia. The entities are cohesive in terms of their associations and links to one another and strive to provide the best possible health care system to the general public in which is of high quality, is effective, efficient as well as accessible to all.

Conclusion

Australia has been remarkably successful in comparison to other similar OECD countries when it comes to providing its citizens with an effective and an efficient health care system. The reason for this is the mixed strategy adopted by the Australian government to provide both public sector based as well as the private sector facilities to the masses by greatly subsiding medicines, and the private sector facilities. The core of the healthcare systems in Australia however is the Medicare medical insurance coverage provided by the government to all its citizens for a charge included in the playable income based taxes. The system however faces threats in the future from the increasing orientation towards favoring the private sector by the public which can lead to increased discrepancy in the quality of service provided to the masses.

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