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Last year, the Health Care Index released a list of the 89 countries that had the top-performing healthcare systems around the world, based on criteria like general quality of service, cost, infrastructure, employed healthcare professionals, medicine availability, and government readiness. Australia came in at the very impressive spot of ninth, meeting high standards despite facing a global health crisis.

After the successful rollout of vaccines to residents, and now that some states have met vaccination milestones, how does Australian healthcare now fare in the list?

Australia comes in at 6th out of 89 countries this year, showing a significant improvement when it comes to meeting the set criteria for healthcare, particularly government readiness, as seen in the vaccine production, procurement, and distribution. A lot of milestones have been met in some states, which could mean a better hope of reopening and going back to normal soon.

Rank Country Health Care Index (Overall) Infrastructure Professionals Cost Medicine Availability Government Readiness
1 South Korea 78.72 87.16 14.23 83.59 82.3 87.89
2 Taiwan 77.7 79.05 13.06 78.39 78.99 65.09
3 Denmark 74.11 90.75 30.01 82.59 92.06 96.3
4 Austria 71.32 86.18 20.25 78.99 88.23 91.8
5 Japan 70.73 78.77 21.6 74.88 74.18 93.2
6 Australia 67.99 92.58 17.37 96.22 67.51 89.91
7 France 65.38 77.86 13.24 71.82 55.1 81.38
8 Spain 64.66 86.28 34.25 75.81 83.82 96.8
9 Belgium 64.63 72.48 24.51 68.68 64.78 94.9
10 United Kingdom 61.73 88.63 14.66 75.61 90.25 88.41
11 Netherlands 60.16 79.09 13.56 69.93 67.29 85.03
12 Finland 59.6 77.76 13.41 68.97 59.65 84.59
13 Thailand 59.52 98.7 29.05 94.99 98.74 96.1
14 Czech Republic 57.96 76.39 14.96 67.47 71.33 88.86
15 Norway 56.71 79.73 21.24 68.59 75.73 92.6
16 New Zealand 54.86 86.58 16.55 71.23 73.86 89.51
17 Germany 52.3 78.93 13.6 66.04 60.94 85.68
18 Switzerland 52.25 77.77 16.4 65.42 69.68 89.49
19 India 52.1 74.2 17.84 63.51 97.84 89.98
20 United Arab Emirates 51.99 68.21 14.95 60.36 55.08 88.74
21 Israel 50.15 73.53 13.84 62.22 74.19 87.72
22 Portugal 49.58 98.3 14.25 75.25 83.54 87.95
23 Canada 48.64 62.39 16.89 55.73 52.91 89.75
24 Singapore 48.54 82.67 13.35 66.15 81.98 81.63
25 Ecuador 48.27 69.37 45.24 59.16 66.11 98.2
26 Greece 48.13 96.87 19.39 86.79 98.21 91.2
27 Argentina 47.15 78.03 20.31 63.08 75.19 92.1
28 Sweden 46.24 70.06 25.05 58.53 62.6 95.1
29 Mexico 45.84 75.2 21.56 60.99 66.54 92.7
30 United States 45.62 84.18 13.1 65.52 76.28 76.21
31 Lithuania 45.3 83.43 14.65 64.98 85.77 88.38
32 Estonia 45.3 71.12 42.86 58.62 64.48 97.8
33 Qatar 45.29 67.54 51.28 56.77 60.69 98.5
34 Malaysia 45.1 64.17 15.05 54.94 52.11 88.89
35 Colombia 44.72 78.39 19.88 62.1 74.03 91.7
36 Hong Kong 44.55 98.1 14.71 66.02 64.34 88.47
37 Italy 44.43 83.38 23.66 87.03 98.43 94.3
38 Philippines 43.06 85.38 13.2 64.9 72.19 80.68
39 Uruguay 42.99 64.37 41.72 54.02 55.79 97.5
40 Sri Lanka 42.92 71.54 16.25 57.69 53.28 89.48
41 Iceland 42.5 65.97 13.64 54.61 47.94 85.9
42 Croatia 42.31 88.12 14.15 72.84 91.25 87.87
43 Jordan 41.99 76.84 25.14 59.97 74.42 95.4
44 Chile 41.97 74.88 19.47 58.95 69.12 91.5
45 Lebanon 41.63 71.55 16.67 57.07 65.42 89.54
46 China 41.4 69.67 15.42 55.99 65.36 89.31
47 Slovenia 39.85 89.83 14.41 65.29 87.57 87.98
48 Latvia 39.65 75.65 13.89 58.23 65.85 87.81
49 Hungary 39.37 73.88 14.71 57.18 74.7 88.48
50 Costa Rica 39.03 68.39 18.75 54.18 65.81 90.86
51 Poland 39.02 67.54 13.18 53.73 47.83 78.63
52 Indonesia 38.95 76.14 13.81 58.14 62.74 87.58
53 South Africa 38.65 91.58 20.88 65.96 94.29 92.3
54 Slovakia 38.48 72.36 21.82 55.97 67.42 93.5
55 Saudi Arabia 38.43 66.73 13.73 53.04 50.02 86.72
56 Panama 38.13 90.55 31.24 79.67 97.21 96.6
57 Belarus 37.94 70.93 17.12 54.96 64.1 89.78
58 Russia 37.76 64.76 21.83 51.7 57.85 93.8
59 Tunisia 37.71 74.99 13 56.95 63.39 62.18
60 Macedonia 37.16 70.83 18.39 54.54 73.01 90.84
61 Nepal 37.08 71.76 14.07 54.98 73.65 87.85
62 Peru 36.74 74.26 47.16 56.1 80.07 98.4
63 Brazil 36.31 69.21 14.77 53.29 52.97 88.62
64 Puerto Rico 36.26 64.57 24.43 50.87 59.31 94.6
65 Turkey 35.96 97.4 14.43 68.59 92.72 88.32
66 Vietnam 35.85 45.46 12.81 40.81 43.32 60.14
67 Bulgaria 35.64 77.18 17.35 57.08 72.25 89.84
68 Algeria 35.61 72.04 19.72 54.41 71.68 91.6
69 Romania 35.32 75.31 14.86 55.96 64.15 88.65
70 Kenya 35.16 69.92 16.86 53.1 51.23 89.62
71 Kuwait 35.09 89.14 15.32 70.55 89.2 88.98
72 Dominican Republic 34.97 66.12 21.08 51.05 62.85 92.5
73 Nigeria 34.78 96.34 16 66.82 82.83 89.38
74 Albania 34.78 67.9 36.44 51.87 63.47 97.2
75 Bosnia And Herzegovina 34.63 70.82 12.91 53.3 59.3 60.88
76 Cyprus 34.61 72.31 13.46 54.06 58.37 85.01
77 Serbia 34.37 69.88 16.19 52.7 66.16 89.42
78 Iran 34.28 73.69 14.92 54.62 59.64 88.71
79 Georgia 33.84 70.73 22.76 52.88 64.43 93.9
80 Ireland 33.65 75.32 13.87 55.16 58.24 87.74
81 Ukraine 33.38 68.87 14.33 51.69 53.55 87.97
82 Kazakhstan 33.22 49.97 12.8 41.87 52.56 59.08
83 Morocco 33.01 67.36 15.17 50.73 63.2 88.91
84 Egypt 32.94 69.5 28.16 51.81 62.68 95.7
85 Bangladesh 32.89 70.58 22.84 52.34 68.18 94.2
86 Azerbaijan 32.88 77.8 13.76 56.06 59.35 87.38
87 Iraq 32.55 73.74 14.59 53.81 57.45 88.36
88 Pakistan 32.52 73.36 18.25 53.59 58.14 90.81
89 Venezuela 32.42 71.39 17.16 52.53 53.7 89.84

Improvements made to the Australian healthcare system

This year, the Australian government has allotted $98.3 billion to the healthcare budget for 2021-22. This accounts for 16.7% of the whole budget. The following are the specific numbers and percentages of the different sectors that benefitted from the budget:

  • Medical services and benefits, comprised largely of Medicare and Private Health Insurance rebate expenses, will account for $37.6 billion, or 38.2% of total health expenses in 2021–22.
  • Real spending is expected to increase by 3.4% from 2021–22 to 2024–25, with the largest driver of this increase being ongoing growth in the use of medical services listed on the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS). Expenses for private health insurance are expected to decrease in real terms over the period.
  • Assistance to the states and territories, comprising the Australian Government’s contribution to public hospital funding, will account for $25.5 billion, or 25.9% of total health expenses in 2021–22 (excluding National Partnership payments).
  • Real spending is expected to increase by 10.3% from 2020–21 to 2021–22, largely reflecting higher than anticipated growth in the volume of services, and then increase by 9.5% in real terms from 2021–22 to 2024–25.
  • A breakdown of Commonwealth National Health Reform funding to each state and territory in 2019–20 and estimates for 2020–21 to 2024–25 can be found in Federal Financial Relations: Budget Paper No. 3: 2021–22 (pp. 19–21).
  • Pharmaceutical benefits and services, comprised primarily of Australian Government subsidies for Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) medicines, will account for $15.2 billion, or 15.5% of total health spending in 2021–22. Expenses are expected to be relatively steady over the forward estimates.
  • Health services, comprised of Australian Government expenses associated with the delivery of population health, medical research, mental health, blood and blood products, other allied health services and health infrastructure, will account for $13.7 billion, or 13.9% of total health funding in 2021–22. The sub-function also includes expenses associated with COVID-19 response measures.
  • Expenses are expected to decrease by 33.0% in real terms between 2021–22 and 2024–25 due to the cessation of pandemic response measures.
  • General administration, comprised of general administrative costs, investment in health workforce measures and support for rural health initiatives, will account for $4.2 billion, or 4.3% of total health funding in 2021–22.
  • Due to COVID-19 response measures, expenses are expected to increase by 2.9% in real terms between 2020–21 and 2021–22, before decreasing by 25.0% between 2021–22 and 2024–25.
  • Hospital services, comprised mainly of payments to the states and territories to deliver veterans’ hospital services, will account for $1.2 billion, or 1.2% of total health funding in 2021–22.
  • Expenses are expected to decrease by 8.5% in real terms over the period 2021–22 to 2024–25, reflecting an expected reduction in the number of veterans requiring treatment and efficiencies achieved in the pricing arrangements.
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, reflecting health portfolio Indigenous-specific services, will account for $980 million, or 1.0% of total health funding in 2021–22.
  • Real expenses are expected to increase by 3.5% between 2021–22 and 2024–25, related to utilisation of the Indigenous Australians’ Health Program.

The improvements made to both Medicare and private healthcare systems have given more Australians access to quality health services this year despite the difficulties of lockdowns and major anxiety brought about by COVID-19.

Significant positive changes have also been seen in help lines and support lines for people struggling with mental health issues, and more innovations in healthcare have come about, like self-care mobile applications for volunteers and digital support for kids and teens.

 

References:

  • https://ceoworld.biz/2021/04/27/revealed-countries-with-the-best-health-care-systems-2021/
  • https://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Parliamentary_Departments/Parliamentary_Library/pubs/rp/BudgetReview202122/HealthOverview
  • https://www.health.gov.au/ministers/the-hon-greg-hunt-mp/media/budget-2021-22-generational-change-and-record-investment-in-the-health-of-australians
  • https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports-data/health-welfare-overview/health-care-quality-performance/health-performance-overview
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