In Australia, the concept of health is generally based on a broader definition of health as provided by the World Health Organization. That means it not only focuses on the physical and mental health of the population, but also on its general state of social well being. As a result, Australia has some of the best health care statistics in the world. Life expectancy is 80.4 years for males and 84.6 years for females in 2016 . At the same time, infant mortality is low at 4.3 deaths per 1,000. Overall, although Australia faces many of the health concerns common in developed countries (such as coronary heart disease, skin cancer, obesity, diabetes, and other chronic diseases), its citizens are among the healthiest in the world. These figures are the result of a robust and well-managed health care system that is characterized by a mixture of public and private health service providers.
Australians receive universal coverage through Medicare, a tax-funded public insurance program that covers most medical care, including physician and hospital services, as well as prescription drugs. This system was established in 1984 as a means of providing high quality health care that is affordable and accessible to all Australian residents, regardless of their circumstances. The federal government finances and regulates most health services, although the states and territories are responsible for public hospital care. While Medicare generally provides high quality health care that is affordable and accessible to all Australian residents, regardless of their circumstances, international students are not eligible for it and instead must purchase private insurance.
The private insurance market in Australia is quite robust and a little more than half of all Australians receive additional coverage through private insurance. Even those entitled to Medicare coverage seek out private insurance because it can be used in either private or public hospitals and allows patients wider option of doctors and hospitals. Moreover, this private insurance market is government subsidized and covers services such as dental care and private hospitals. Due to the fact that international students are not eligible for Medicare, study abroad students must purchase private insurance for the duration of their stay in Australia. For more information about a private health insurance plan that would work in the US, be sure to visit our Patriot Travel plan.
The Australian government takes a Commonwealth form with six States and two Territories. When it comes to health care, the Commonwealth takes the lead in the development of national health policies, regulations, and funding. The States and Territories operate in matters that are not covered by the Commonwealth’s responsibilities such as the execution, oversight, and regulation of public health services as well as health care providers.
Some of the government’s health strategies include: a) the provision of clinical services and programs, b) improvement of the social, physical, and economic environment of groups or individuals at special risk, c) reduction of health risk exposures, d) capacity building to enable individuals to exercise control in their environment and make appropriate health choices, and e) the provision of culturally relevant services, among others.
It is estimated that about 67% of Australia’s AUD$115 billion health care expenditure was funded by the government in 2016 while non-government sources funded the remainder.Of that AUD$115 billion government contribution, the Australian Government contributed 61%, while state and territory governments contributed the remaining 39%. In the same period, individuals paid AUD$29 billion, some 53% of the AUD$56 billion in non-government funding, or 17% of the nation’s total health expenditure.