The impact of rising healthcare costs is especially felt by those who are least able to afford out-of-pocket expenses, including people with chronic health conditions and complex healthcare needs. The findings were highlighted in the latest issue of the Australian Health Review, a peer-reviewed journal of the Australian Healthcare and Hospital Association.
“This has had a particularly devastating effect on those who are least likely to be able to afford out-of-pocket healthcare costs, many of whom have complex healthcare needs and chronic health conditions,” Australian Health Review Editor-in-Chief Dr Sonĵ Hall said.
Policy Reflections authors Jane Hall and Stephen Duckett have questioned the resilience of the healthcare system in light of Australia’s changing health needs and the potential for future shocks, such as environmental catastrophes and financial crises.
Stephen Duckett reflects on the release of the Strengthening Medicare Taskforce Report and work to be done to ensure Medicare is fit for purpose and supports Australia’s future healthcare needs.
In addition to the financial burden of essential healthcare, there is also a growing call for the integration of oral healthcare into Australia’s universal healthcare coverage. The current state of oral healthcare is examined in a Perspectives Brief from Deakin University, which highlights the preventable health conditions that result from poor oral health. The report notes that even patients who qualify for publicly funded dental services may face financial stress due to the limited scope of services offered, particularly in rural and remote areas.
Affordability is also a significant barrier when it comes to medications. A study from Griffith University found that the cost of Medicare Benefits Schedule and Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme services for patients with brain or spinal cord injuries could result in financial hardship for those who are already struggling with their condition. The high patient costs associated with these services could make it difficult for patients to access essential care or afford medications.
This issue of the Australian Health Review also explores topics such as the healthcare workforce and models of care. However, the overarching message is clear: the cost of healthcare in Australia is a major concern and action must be taken to ensure that all Australians can access the care they need without facing financial hardship.
This article was also published in the Third Sector.