The tale of out-of-pocket spending on health care

Australasian Med Publ Co Ltd
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Medical Journal Of Australia, 2013, 199 (7), pp. 442 - 443
Issue Date:
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It is the best of times and the worst of times. Bulk-billing rates for non-referred attendances (principally general practitioners) have reached over 82%.1 Yet there has been renewed attention focused on the growing financial burden that out-of-pocket (OOP) payments impose on patients.2 The apparent contradiction can be reconciled, but to do that we need to get beyond the headline figures. All health care financing, whether provided through government, social agencies or private providers, aims to ensure that individuals are not excluded from receiving costly health care when they need it. When patients face charges, their use of health services is lowered, with OOP expenditures having a greater impact on the use of health care by those with less financial means. So at first glance it seems inconsistent to impose copayments in a system set up to reduce barriers to use.
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