A description of Australia’s healthcare system

John Hempton has gotten to it before I did and written it far better than I would have anyway.  Have a read.  Although I agree that Australia’s system is much, much better than America’s current system or any of their proposed frameworks, I would add three negative comments about Australia’s system:

  • Medicare payments to GPs for a consultation by a patient are determined centrally (at the federal level) and have not increased with inflation.  At first that meant that GPs shortened each consultation to fit more people in per day, but in the long run served, I believe, to reduce the supply of GPs and as a result pushed people with minor ailments to hospital emergency rooms.
  • I don’t know if it is better or worse than other countries, but the administrative overhead in the state government health departments is surprisingly large, even to me.  I am led to believe that adminstrators and middle-managers exceed more than 50% of the staff of Queensland Health (and that does not include admin staff on the wards).
  • The federal-state funding arrangement in Australia is a real problem.  I don’t know whether the best policy is to put all health care in federal hands or to grant the states more revenue-raising posibilities, but something does need to happen.

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