Australian Social Policy: Health
Australian Healthcare Policy: Fluctuations between Private and Public Systems
In Australia, one of the most politically divisive and publically discussed social policy domains is that of health. It has been an issue under discussion by political candidates at each Commonwealth election over the past seventy years due to the politically engrained differences in how the political parties have conceptualized managing the Australian healthcare system. These political divisions are in addition to the stakeholder positions that are usual to any healthcare system, with patient, provider, research, and insurance interests often having vastly different goals and motivations. Health policy in Australia is indeed reflective of the plurality of political parties and ideologies core to the Commonwealth’s legislature (Gray 2003). The political tensions around health are no small matter, either, with the healthcare industry being the largest industry in the Commonwealth (Duckett 1999).
In light of the political fluctuations and their impact upon policy development and change, a key resource for understanding the priorities and activities of the Australian government’s health initiatives is through the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, which publishes over 100 policy and action briefings each year (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2011). Issues of access have remained central to the concerns of the nonpartisan Institute of Health and Welfare which handles public health, medical health, medical economics, bioethics, and health management aspects of the Commonwealth’s policy and action plan. One of the main subsections of the Institute’s website covers the issues of “Services, workforce, and spending” within the Commonwealth’s health plan and policy (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2011). In a report published in 2010, the Australian Government reported the following long-term trends with regard to per capita health expenditure (this should be seen as distinct from reporting on public health expenditure):
“Australia has been one of the first countries to adopt a newly developed international standard, the System of National Accounts 2008. The new System has increased the scope of production activities included in the measurement of GDP. The changes have increased the size of Australia’s GDP, which has had the effect of reducing Australia’s health to GDP ratio, particularly in comparison with other countries that have not yet adopted the new standard. Health expenditure grew from $48.4 billion (7.8% of GDP) in 1998-99 to $112.8 billion (9.0% of GDP) in 2008-09. In 2008-09 prices, this was a change from $66.5 billion in 1998-99 to $112.8 billion in 2008-09. (Australian Government 2010)”
These trends in Australian per capita health expenditure reflect that despite political tensions surrounding how much the Australian government ‘should’ be spending on per capital healthcare-related costs, the rate of expenditure nearly doubled in the decade between 1999 and 2009. This period of time saw a great deal of change and fluctuation in Australian healthcare policy, starting with a series of revisions to the Medicare policy and culminating in Australia’s response to the global recession and rising healthcare costs. The historical context of the political fluctuations within Australia and its impact upon the healthcare infrastructure and the policies of which is comprised is essential to the understanding of how the healthcare industry has become the largest and most controversial industry in the Commonwealth.
The Australian Labour Party has been the face of nationalized social medicine policy in the past several decades, operating from a perspective that healthcare is a protected right, for which the government is obligated to provide basic access. The platform position of the Australian Labour Party has been that publically funded healthcare is central to ensuring equitable access for all Australians. The other end of the political spectrum is represented in the Australian Liberal and National Parties, which function as a coalition with regards to healthcare policy position. The coalition favors a more libertarian stance on health policy development in Australia that minimizes the public sector in favor of privatized care (Palmer and Short 2007). The political pendulum has swung between these political parties and their respective political agendas, often influenced by social, cultural, and particularly economic factors. The resulting pattern of Australian healthcare policy reflects multiple changes in direction from a philosophical perspective, with social benefits related to healthcare coverage having changed multiple times in the past several decades (Gray 2003).
A chief example of the oscillation of Australian healthcare policy development is historically situated in the early postwar era. When a national hospital system was created in 1946, it collapsed with a lack of participation from Australian healthcare providers. By the early 1950s, with a new, more conservative administration in power, the nationalized scheme was abandoned in favor of private health insurance. The new private system was unpopular due to the financial reasons outlined as barriers to access as well as a lack of regulation on costs and premiums (Palmer and Short 2007).
In another swing of the pendulum of public opinion and political policy, a public healthcare and insurance coverage system was introduced in the mid 1970s, called Medibank This, too, proved unpopular and when the National and Liberal party coalition came into power, the system reverted to privatized care and coverage. Another public option was introduced in 1983. While Medicare has not been dismantled as other public healthcare systems in the Commonwealth, such as the 1946 Chifley system or Medibank, political pressures have influenced the degree to which the program has been funded over the past three decades (Gray 2003).
The current Medicare system is financed by the Commonwealth government and is managed by the Health Insurance Commission. It was established such that the Commonwealth and the constituent states Under current policy, Australian citizens are covered for all care pertaining to necessary hospitalization and care and up to eighty-five percent of out patient procedures, although with a bulk billing option, which has been a matter of some controversy, healthcare providers may opt to bill the Heath Insurance Commission directly instead of the patient (Australian Government 2011; Hall 2006).
The health policies since the advent of Medicare in the Commonwealth have impacted Australian health demography, with a steady decline in private insurance subscription rates to under one in three persons in 2005 (Gray 2003). Insurance lobbyists have, for the most part, been unable to sway the Labour Party to favor private insurance over public coverage and costs have held relatively constant, particularly compared to other developed nations. A notable exception to this stabilization of political debate occurred in 1999 when private insurance rebate was created but failed to significantly increase the number of Australians selecting private insurance coverage (Duckett 1999).
A more recent policy initiative that did increase the rate of private insurance coverage was a controversial but well-publicized health campaign, the Lifetime Health Cover, which placed upon Australian citizens over the age of 30 a surcharge for not electing to maintain private insurance coverage in addition to the Medicare coverage as previously outlined. In public discourse, the campaign, which carried a tagline of “Run for Cover,” was derided for instilling a sense of fear and financial penalty upon Australians and that these were unsavory incentives for driving people to private insurance coverage (Parliament of Australia 2000).
In response to public and political outcry over this and the bulk billing debate, prior to the 2004 elections, a comprehensive reform policy, “A Fairer Medicare” was introduced, although neither public nor industrial interests supported the final product. A revision, “Medicare Plus” was crafted with bipartisan participation following the creation of a special legislative committee and reformatted the payment structure for physicians using bulk billing as well as providing better coverage for vulnerable populations. This rapid sequence of events, following several years of relative stability following the initial passage of Medicare was widely attributed to the Labour government’s concerns in the lead up to the 2004 general elections (Australian Institute for Primary Care; 2003; Hall 2006).
One element of policy development that shifted with the activity surrounding the 2004 Medicare revisions was that there was a greater degree of involvement in the process from academic and public stakeholders. The government commissioned multiple reports from the Australian Institute for Primary Care and also held multiple public hearings in order to determine the successes and failures of the Medicare program on the general population (Essue 2010).
There have been many factors in the past decade in particular which have exerted tremendous influence over the current trajectory of Australian healthcare policy. The global recession affected Australia as well, and with healthcare occupying more than five times the budgeting capacity of even the defense budget in the modern world, the healthcare industry has been hit as well (Haynes 2011). Along with other countries with private health insurance Australia has experienced rising healthcare costs. There have been substantial lobbying efforts from insurance and healthcare provider interests to prevent healthcare reform efforts such as capping copayment consumer premiums. From the social, liberal platform of the Labour Party, the insurance premium policies impose financial hardships on low-income Australian citizens and jeopardize the mandate for universal basic healthcare access (Gray 2003; Haynes 2011).
There are some elements of Australian health policy that are beyond the scope of the political partisanship that typifies the contemporary Commonwealth government. Matters of inflation with regard to healthcare costs are tied to the Australian and global economic situation. There have been some studies that indicate that single payer systems, such as was erected in Australian briefly in the mid 1940s and again in the early 1990s, have been demonstrated to curb the effect of inflation and economic duress (Gray 2003; Ross 2005). As was previously outlined, however, since the first series of reforms on the Medicare system in Australia, the policy initiatives, such as Lifetime Health Cover have favored moving in a multi-payer direction. While there are few serious calls for the total dismantling of Medicare or its constituent parts, the insurance lobby has demonstrated some success in impelling the government to pass legislation which funds health campaigns that incentivize privatized insurance coverage or penalize those who do not obtain secondary private coverage (Ross 2005).
The emerging financial restriction in the current system has underscored that access issues are not limited to patient burden. There has been an issue of staffing in the rural areas of Australia for decade, particularly in the Outback and amongst indigenous populations. The National Rural Health Alliance has been an important policy partner in the matter of resource and practitioner shortages for many years (Australian Government 2010, 2011).
The government has increasingly moved in a direction of defraying rising costs by chipping away at the initial cost structure under Medicare where all hospital-related costs and more than half of non-hospital related costs were covered by the Commonwealth and the states. With an increase in surcharges, co-pays, taxes, and billing, a concurrent issue of access has re-emerged, with criticisms of the current system suggesting that it disproportionately reduces access to basic healthcare for lower income and vulnerable populations in Australia (Gray 2003; Ross 2005).
The social ramifications of Australia’s fluctuating healthcare policies have been most acutely felt by vulnerable populations, such as low income and rural populations. The continued efforts from the Labour party to move toward socially-responsibly, single payer public healthcare coverage have been gradually successful on a cyclical basis in step with changing social and political values in the Commonwealth (Jamrozik 2008). It remains important that the increases in per capital expenditure by the government upon healthcare are a sign of increased coverage rather than a symptom of increased cost in order to assure the mandate of universal basic access to healthcare that is part of the Labour party platform and part of a concept of Australian healthcare oriented from a social welfare perspective.
Australian Government. (2011) “About Medicare Australia” Retrieved from: http://www.medicareaustralia.gov.au/about/index.jsp
Australian Government. (2011). “Private Health Insurance Administration Council.” Retrieved from: http://www.phiac.gov.au/statistics/membershipcoverage/hosquar.htm
Australian Government (2010). “Health expenditure Australia 2008-09” Retrieved from: http://www.aihw.gov.au/publication-detail/?id=6442472450&libID=6442472431
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2011). “Services, Workforce, and Spending” Retrieved from: http://www.aihw.gov.au/services-workforce-and-spending/.
Australian Institute for Primary Care. (2003). “An analysis of potential Inflationary effects on health care costs for consumers associated with the Government’s ‘A Fairer Medicare’, and the Opposition proposal” Retrieved from: http://www.aph.gov.au/senate/committee/medicare_ctte/fairer_medicare/report/f02.pdf
Essue, BM, et al. (2010). Informal care and the self-management partnership: implications for Australian health policy and practice. Journal of the Australian Healthcare & Hospitals Association. Vol 34, Iss 4: 414-422
Gray, Gwen (2005). The Politics of Medicare. UNSW Press; New South Wales.
Duckett Stephen (1999) Policy challenges for the Australian health care system. Australian Health Review Vol 22. 130 — 147.
Hall, J. (2006). “Incremental change in the Australian health care system.” Health Affairs, Vol. 18, Iss. 3, 95-110.
Haynes, AS et al. (2011) “From ‘our world’ to the ‘real world’: Exploring the views and behaviour of policy-influential Australian public health researchers.” Social Science & Medicine, Vol 72, Iss 7: 1047-1055.
Jamrozik, Adam. (2008). Social Policy in the Post-Welfare State: Australian society in a changing world.
Palmer, GW and Short, SD. (2007). Health care & public policy: an Australian analysis. Macmillian: South Yarra, Australia.
Parliament of Australia. (2000) “National Health Amendment (Lifetime Health Cover) Bill 1999. Retrieved from: http://www.aph.gov.au/library/pubs/bd/1999-2000/2000bd013.htm.
Ross, Jayne. (2005). “The use of economic evaluation in health care: Australian decision makers’ perceptions” Health Policy -Vol. 31, Iss. 2: 103-110.
Are you busy and do not have time to handle your assignment? Are you scared that your paper will not make the grade? Do you have responsibilities that may hinder you from turning in your assignment on time? Are you tired and can barely handle your assignment? Are your grades inconsistent?
Whichever your reason is, it is valid! You can get professional academic help from our service at affordable rates. We have a team of professional academic writers who can handle all your assignments.
Students barely have time to read. We got you! Have your literature essay or book review written without having the hassle of reading the book. You can get your literature paper custom-written for you by our literature specialists.
Do you struggle with finance? No need to torture yourself if finance is not your cup of tea. You can order your finance paper from our academic writing service and get 100% original work from competent finance experts.
While psychology may be an interesting subject, you may lack sufficient time to handle your assignments. Don’t despair; by using our academic writing service, you can be assured of perfect grades. Moreover, your grades will be consistent.
Engineering is quite a demanding subject. Students face a lot of pressure and barely have enough time to do what they love to do. Our academic writing service got you covered! Our engineering specialists follow the paper instructions and ensure timely delivery of the paper.
In the nursing course, you may have difficulties with literature reviews, annotated bibliographies, critical essays, and other assignments. Our nursing assignment writers will offer you professional nursing paper help at low prices.
Truth be told, sociology papers can be quite exhausting. Our academic writing service relieves you of fatigue, pressure, and stress. You can relax and have peace of mind as our academic writers handle your sociology assignment.
We take pride in having some of the best business writers in the industry. Our business writers have a lot of experience in the field. They are reliable, and you can be assured of a high-grade paper. They are able to handle business papers of any subject, length, deadline, and difficulty!
We boast of having some of the most experienced statistics experts in the industry. Our statistics experts have diverse skills, expertise, and knowledge to handle any kind of assignment. They have access to all kinds of software to get your assignment done.
Writing a law essay may prove to be an insurmountable obstacle, especially when you need to know the peculiarities of the legislative framework. Take advantage of our top-notch law specialists and get superb grades and 100% satisfaction.
We have highlighted some of the most popular subjects we handle above. Those are just a tip of the iceberg. We deal in all academic disciplines since our writers are as diverse. They have been drawn from across all disciplines, and orders are assigned to those writers believed to be the best in the field. In a nutshell, there is no task we cannot handle; all you need to do is place your order with us. As long as your instructions are clear, just trust we shall deliver irrespective of the discipline.
Our essay writers are graduates with bachelor's, masters, Ph.D., and doctorate degrees in various subjects. The minimum requirement to be an essay writer with our essay writing service is to have a college degree. All our academic writers have a minimum of two years of academic writing. We have a stringent recruitment process to ensure that we get only the most competent essay writers in the industry. We also ensure that the writers are handsomely compensated for their value. The majority of our writers are native English speakers. As such, the fluency of language and grammar is impeccable.
There is a very low likelihood that you won’t like the paper.
Not at all. All papers are written from scratch. There is no way your tutor or instructor will realize that you did not write the paper yourself. In fact, we recommend using our assignment help services for consistent results.
We check all papers for plagiarism before we submit them. We use powerful plagiarism checking software such as SafeAssign, LopesWrite, and Turnitin. We also upload the plagiarism report so that you can review it. We understand that plagiarism is academic suicide. We would not take the risk of submitting plagiarized work and jeopardize your academic journey. Furthermore, we do not sell or use prewritten papers, and each paper is written from scratch.
You determine when you get the paper by setting the deadline when placing the order. All papers are delivered within the deadline. We are well aware that we operate in a time-sensitive industry. As such, we have laid out strategies to ensure that the client receives the paper on time and they never miss the deadline. We understand that papers that are submitted late have some points deducted. We do not want you to miss any points due to late submission. We work on beating deadlines by huge margins in order to ensure that you have ample time to review the paper before you submit it.
We have a privacy and confidentiality policy that guides our work. We NEVER share any customer information with third parties. Noone will ever know that you used our assignment help services. It’s only between you and us. We are bound by our policies to protect the customer’s identity and information. All your information, such as your names, phone number, email, order information, and so on, are protected. We have robust security systems that ensure that your data is protected. Hacking our systems is close to impossible, and it has never happened.
You fill all the paper instructions in the order form. Make sure you include all the helpful materials so that our academic writers can deliver the perfect paper. It will also help to eliminate unnecessary revisions.
Proceed to pay for the paper so that it can be assigned to one of our expert academic writers. The paper subject is matched with the writer’s area of specialization.
You communicate with the writer and know about the progress of the paper. The client can ask the writer for drafts of the paper. The client can upload extra material and include additional instructions from the lecturer. Receive a paper.
The paper is sent to your email and uploaded to your personal account. You also get a plagiarism report attached to your paper.
Delivering a high-quality product at a reasonable price is not enough anymore.
That’s why we have developed 5 beneficial guarantees that will make your experience with our service enjoyable, easy, and safe.
You have to be 100% sure of the quality of your product to give a money-back guarantee. This describes us perfectly. Make sure that this guarantee is totally transparent.Read more
Each paper is composed from scratch, according to your instructions. It is then checked by our plagiarism-detection software. There is no gap where plagiarism could squeeze in.Read more
Thanks to our free revisions, there is no way for you to be unsatisfied. We will work on your paper until you are completely happy with the result.Read more
Your email is safe, as we store it according to international data protection rules. Your bank details are secure, as we use only reliable payment systems.Read more
By sending us your money, you buy the service we provide. Check out our terms and conditions if you prefer business talks to be laid out in official language.Read more