Australia has set up a publicly funded health care system (Medicare) that follows the principles of universal access to affordable and equal healthcare. The strategy is aimed at providing subsidized treatment to all the Australian citizens (Krassnitze & Willis, 2016). This health care system is complex as it is shared between the territory, state and federal governments who are the key stakeholders. The fragmented model of funding, limited resources, social determinants of health and the asymmetry between the healthcare providers and the patients have made the Medicare system coordination and implementation difficult. Although the Australian health care system has seen great success through high life expectancy, reduced infant mortality rates and provision of affordable health care, there are various contemporary issues and challenges that face the Australian healthcare strategy in improving and maintaining patient health care. These key issues facing the Australian Medicare policy include population changes, the cost of technology, private versus public funding of the health care system, problems in the health research sector, inequality in the healthcare system and rapid urbanization health issues (Hunt, Ramjan, McDonald, Koch, Baird & Salamonson, 2015). This article will analyze these contemporary issues in the Australian Medicare policy, provide frameworks for understanding these problems and recommendations to deal with these issues.
Issues In Contemporary Australian Healthcare Policy
The ability of the Australian Medicare strategy to maintain the health and well-being of the population due to scarce resources and the increase in the cost of healthcare provision poses a major challenge to the Australian government. As from the statistics gathered in the year 2013, 14 % of the population is elderly aged above the age of sixty-five years old (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2016). This population needs special care which has strained the available resources hence threatening of the success of the Medicare strategy. Although there should be an urgent action to address the demographic changes that affect the healthcare system, most of the Australian governments are not making enough changes to publicly and popularly support the Medicare system due to the fear of voter backlash (Molster et al. 2016). However, these governments have been forced to address the increasing budgetary burden due to the demographic changes via efficiency gains and subsidizing the private healthcare to ensure that those who earn more move to the private medical care providers so as to ease the public sector as the poor population can also get medical care.
Equity Issues and Health Inequalities
Recently, there have been enormous enhancements in the health results due to the proper implementation of the Medicare policy in Australia as measured by effective disease management control, increased life expectancy and reduced mortality rates. However, this success has not been shared equally across the various groups in Australia (Devaux, 2015). For example, the aboriginal population does not receive good healthcare services which make their life expectancy to be about seventy years of age which is meaningfully lesser than the life expectation of the non-indigenous populace which is roughly 84 years of age. Evidence shows that there is a substantial difference with the care handling that is received by the indigenous people as compared to that received by the non-indigenous population hence leading to health inequalities (Fisher, Baum, MacDougall, Newman & McDermott, 2016).
Rapid Urbanization Health Issues
Rapid urbanization across the continent of Australia has created many challenges for the governments in the planning of the Medicare policy to ensure healthy and sustainable communities. For instance, increased urbanization pose great issues on the high rates of obesity, access to healthy diets, the rise in asthma rates and increased mental wellbeing issues such as the rise in the suicide rates (Badland et al 2014).
Public and Private Funding of the Medicare
Australian liberal governments believe that the Medicare system can work more efficiently if it is left in the market. In Australia, there exists a unique mix of private and public healthcare funding with almost 30% of the expenditure being derived from the private sector (Scanlon, Cashin, Bryce, Kelly & Buckely, 2016). The rise in technology cost, ageing population and illness management procedures forces governments to seek market-based approaches in dealing with larger budgetary constraints, for instance, the pricing to market of the Medicare services and GP surcharge among others.
Improvements in technology and technological breakthroughs have improved the lives of patients in Australia due to better diagnostics and effective management of serious diseases. The high cost and the diffusion of technology have posed great budgetary constraints in improving and maintaining the Medicare. Healthcare technologies have increased the burden on the government budgets but they are necessary since they improve the well-being and health of the citizens since they are cost-effective in treatments.
Frameworks Of Understanding Medicare Issues (Alternative Framework For Viewing and Understanding the Problem).
The Australian Quality and Safety Outline for Health Care provides a harmless and superior care for all the Australians and gives the actions that need to be taken to attain this dream. The outline of understanding Medicare issues outlines three core principles for high quality and safe care which are; organized Medicare system, consumer-centred and driven by information (Meyer, 2015).
Recommendations To Deal With Health Issues in Australia (Alternative Policy For Dealing With The Problem).
1. The Australian government should come up with policies that promote the delivery of Medicare to the elderly and marginalized populations.
2. To ensure equality in the health sector, governments should ensure that the indigenous people receive better and improved healthcare like the non-indigenous population through health incentives and availing equal health services to the aboriginal community.
3. Stakeholders in the health sector are supposed to plan properly to ensure that the rapid urbanization experienced does not have negative effects on the health care system by promoting healthy diets.
4. The government should increase funding of the public health sector and encourage investment in the private health sector to ease the congestion in health care system.
5. Healthcare technology improvements and inventions should be encouraged and made affordable since technology improves service delivery and is cost effective.
In conclusion, it is evident that Australia Medicare policy faces serious challenges such as demographic changes, equity issues and health inequalities, rapid urbanization health issues, technology costs, public and private funding of the Medicare system. The framework of understanding Medicare issues consists of three main principles which include organized Medicare system, consumer-centred and driven by information. There are various recommendations to deal with the contemporary issues in healthcare sector which include increased funding of the public sector, encouraging technology advancements, formulation of policies to promote healthcare for different populations, proper planning and promotion of equality in health care service delivery.
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