Health care reform in Australia: Advancing or side-stepping?

John Wiley & Sons Ltd
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Health Economics, 2010, 19 (11), pp. 1259 - 1263
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The Australian Prime Minister and State premiers, after an intense period of negotiation, announced `the most significant reform to Australias health and hospitals system since the introduction of Medicare, and one of the largest reforms to service delivery in the history of the Federation (Council of Australian Governments, 2010a). The Australian health-care system has remained structurally stable since the introduction of national tax financed universal health care in 1984, with subsequent governments mostly preferring incremental change (Hall, 1999). The most interesting feature of Australian health care to those outside Australia has been the public subsidy of private health insurance, despite universal free access to public hospitals, universal subsidies for medical care and most prescription pharmaceuticals. Within Australia, the role of private health insurance and the cost of its subsidy have been the dominant national issue, while other components of the system have been unchanged. This new agreement is strongly focussed on public hospitals. Whether this will indeed prove the start of significant reform or merely a side-step is yet to be determined.
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