Universal Health in Australian Cities Essay

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Australian Healthcare System

The following paper discusses the Australian healthcare system. It begins with the structure and overview of the system and then moves on to the governance of the system. After covering these aspects, the paper highlights the functions of the Australian healthcare system. In addition, the paper also discusses the historical background of the system. In the end, the paper discusses the current issues that are faced by the Australian healthcare system.

Australia is a huge country with an area of 7692000 square kilometers. This country has increasing population and other factors that present a challenge to its healthcare system. The Australian healthcare system is a tax-funded system that provides the Australian populace with healthcare facilities. The system has gone through many reforms and has certainly improved during the last two decades. (Hilless & Healy, 2001)

Overview and Structure

The Australian healthcare system, as mentioned earlier, is funded by the taxes. The government looks after, controls and funds the system. The government also subsidizes different medicines and other products related to the provision of the healthcare services. The federal government, states governments and territory governments interact together to form a strategy which ensures an equitable and efficient provision of healthcare services. In addition, these governments interact with the private stakeholders in a specific forum in order to generate more funds. (Hilless & Healy, 2001)

The structure of the Australian healthcare system is a little complex as it consists of many private investors. There are four management levels which interact together in order to achieve the goals set for the system. The government is the main governing body of the system and the flow of funds is controlled by it. The structure consists of four levels and each level has its own duties and functions. (Healy & Sharman et al., 2006)

The first and foremost level is the commonwealth or the federal government. This body funds all the smaller bodies in this system. The major function of the federal government is to control the flux of funds into and out of other smaller government controlled medical institutes. The federal government also administers the transfer of funds to private insurance fund. The federal level does not manage any healthcare bodies and its primary function is to manage the funds that are received by the government. (Eagar & Garrett et al., 2001)

In addition, the federal government provides the state and local government with the necessary funds. As the funds are the responsibility of the federal government, mostly they select the healthcare programs. In addition, the federal government also provides the required funds to other agencies that work under it. Some of these agencies are the Department of Health and Ageing and the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. The federal government also sponsors medical research and training of medical personnel. (Eagar & Garrett et al., 2001)

The second level is the state government. The state government controls the funds and manages the government run bodies. The main duty of the state government is to ensure the provision of the health care services to the entire populace with equality. The state government controls the policies and funding of public hospitals and public health care services. In this way, it manages and administers the services that are currently being offered. In addition, the state government is also responsible for managing the flow of funds to the local government. The state government is also responsible for endorsing licenses to the medical institutes. Moreover, it also registers healthcare professionals into state owned medical institutions. (Eagar & Garrett et al., 2001)

The next level is the local government. The local government operates in a smaller area and therefore, it is the smallest state run body in the healthcare system of Australia. The local government operates in territories and administers the funds and policies of the local hospitals and other medical institutions. The local government also assists the state government in managing and funding different public health services offered. In addition to that, the local government also participates actively in the enforcement of standards and disease prevention. (Healy & Sharman et al., 2006)

Private sector is growing rapidly in Australia. The private sector provides and funds healthcare services to the people of Australia. In the year 2002-03 the private sector funded almost 34% of the total health expenditure including the private insurances. Private hospitals are key players in the healthcare systems as they provide 30% of the beds to the patients. In addition, a majority of the doctors is employed in private organizations and some of them have contracts with state run hospitals. Although private hospitals do not take emergency cases and are generally smaller in size as well, but the numbers are increasing because of large corporate parties funding in hospitals for profits. (Nicholson & Jackson et al., 2012)

The aforementioned bodies make up different levels in the structure of Australian healthcare system and interact together to ensure the provision of healthcare to the population of Australia.

Governance

As mentioned earlier, the Australian healthcare system consists of two parts, the private sector and the public sector. The private medical institutions are governed and controlled by the private organizations. The funds are also generated by the corporates owning these institutions but sometimes, the government also funds these institutions. In addition, these medical institutions also receive subsidies from the government so that they can provide the healthcare services at a lower cost. (Bennett, 2009)

Three branches of government control the public sector: the commonwealth, the state government and the local government. The funds are controlled by the federal government whereas the state government controls the management and the local government. The local government then controls the institutions and manages the provision of services to the people. (Bennett, 2009)

The benefit of this governance system is that the branches of government share the responsibilities and therefore, each branch fulfils its duty effectively as it is not over burdened by it. Therefore, the Australian governance system supports its healthcare system. (Bennett, 2009)

Function

The function of an effective healthcare system is to provide medical services to the people. The Australian healthcare system covers all the residents of Australia. The system also provides medical assistance to people on visas from courtiers that have an arrangement with the Australian government. In addition, the system also covers the asylum seekers and undocumented migrants with the latter getting help mostly from the NGO's. (Thomson & Osborn et al., 2012)

The healthcare system provides two types of incentives to the people. The first incentive is giving direct services to the people who need it in governmental hospitals and medical institutes. Medicare is the largest governmental body giving free or discounted access to all the medical services. In addition, the government has other medical bodies providing population, mental and dental healthcare services to the people. In addition, immunizations and vaccinations are also funded by the government. Moreover, the government has also introduced several therapies for the people as well. (Thomson & Osborn et al., 2012)

The second incentive is the reimbursement of medical expenses that an individual has incurred. Medicare reimburses 85% of the ambulatory care expenses. It also reimburses 75% to the patients who are admitted to the hospital. The doctors are recommended to bill Medicare for the amount of subsidy and therefore the patient is relieved a lot. In addition to that, the healthcare system has also set an annual limit and the patients increasing that limit get increased subsidy from the government. Moreover, the safety net mechanism provides extra concession to the patients who incur a high medical cost. The patients also receive incentives on the PBS medicines and therefore, the combined cost is reduced to a minimum. (Thomson & Osborn et al., 2012)

The Australian health care system combines the provision of service and the reimbursement of cost technique to accomplish its goal. The function of the system, as mentioned earlier, is to provide the patients with good healthcare at lower cost and the Australian system does fulfil its duty effectively.

Factors Influencing the Design of Australian Healthcare System

The design of a healthcare system is influenced by certain demographic, economic, and historic and disease-based factors. The Australian system began after the Second World War. The step was necessary to be taken as many states were affected by the war. Therefore, the commonwealth government started funding several healthcare endeavors. This has influenced the role of commonwealth in the current system as well where it controls the funds. (Healy & Sharman et al., 2006)

A national health act was passed in 1953 in which laid the basic design of the current Australian healthcare system. The Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme was enacted which is still operational. In addition to that, the subsidized healthcare services, that are still offered, were also started following the act. The World War 2 has significantly affected the design of the Australian healthcare system. (Healy & Sharman et al., 2006)

The introduction of Medibank in 1975 is an important event… [END OF PREVIEW]

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