Aslan Shand, acting editor
Privatisation of the healthcare system in Australia has reduced the health of all Australians and increased the cost of healthcare for the government and taxpayers.
We like to believe we have the privilege of free healthcare, yet the expensive payments you are required to make on visiting a GP or a specialist are disincentives to receiving timely medical treatment.
The outcome is that people don’t go to the doctor, they decide not to visit the specialist. As a result they end up with a significantly worse condition and higher cost of treatment than if they had received the right care at the right time.
The irony of course is that the more effectively you provide real healthcare for people, the lower overall costs are to the taxpayer.
According to the Australian government’s Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report published in June 2019, the government that spends the most on healthcare is the United States. That’s right, the country known for a system that is based on private insurance and user-pays actually spends close to $14,000 per person a year.
This is a country you don’t live in or travel to without comprehensive health insurance. Yet it is also a country where residents lose their homes so that they can receive healthcare for things like cancer.
Australia sits in seventh position, spending $6,661 per person per year. And while many may celebrate what we are spending on healthcare, the reality is that in countries such as the UK you can still visit the doctor and specialists free of charge.
For children prescription medicines in the UK; from antibiotics to cancer medication, are free and they also cover basic dental care. Unsurprisingly they spend less overall on healthcare – around $5,000 per person – less than Australia and almost a third less than the US.
Yet in Australia I repeatedly see campaign sites like GoFundMe, Chuffed and others where families and friends are trying to raise money for people, particularly children, to be able to receive the care and medication they need (see page 9 to help six-year-old Blake). The caring Australian people and local communities rise to meet this need – and it is heartwarming.
But the reality is that the government should be covering these costs. Our taxpayer dollars should ensure that families aren’t forced to fundraise to cover the costs of the medicine their children need after cancer treatment.
These families should not have the added anxiety that they might not be able to afford essential medicine for their children at a time when they are already emotionally and physically distressed.
The least the Australian people should demand from their government is free healthcare. It should not be the case that if you have the money – you can get healthcare, if you have the money – you have a greater right to live. It should be the right of every Australian adult and child to receive the care they need at the time they need it.
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