01.A quarter of patients avoid care due to costs
Australia has one of the best health care systems in the world, but it’s also one of the priciest, according to a new report.
The latest report by the US-based Commonwealth Fund ranks Australian health care fourth for overall performance among the 11 countries compared, with the UK, Switzerland and Sweden taking the top three spots. And when it comes to quality of care, Australia lands an impressive second place just behind the UK.
But Australia’s ranking drops to eighth when it comes to availability of care and slips to ninth on the question of affordability, a trend that it likely to worsen with the proposed introduction of a $7 GP co-payment in July 2015, according to some health experts who have commented on the report.
The survey component of the research revealed that 25% of doctors in Australia believe their patients "often have difficulty paying paying for medications or out-of-
pocket costs", and that in 2013 about a quarter of patients had paid $1000 or more in the past year.
The survey also showed that 16% of Australian patients didn't fill a prescription or skipped a recommended medical test because they couldn’t afford it.
A CHOICE story earlier this year offered practical guidance on how to anticipate and minimise the gap between what is and isn’t covered by private health insurance.
The report compared heath care systems in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK and the US.
The Commonwealth Fund is a private foundation dedicated to improving the US healthcare system, which ranked last in many categories but came in fifth for quality of care.