Australia’s entire health system is under review at the moment, with the health minster looking for ways to make Medicare sustainable for the future.
Inevitably, the conversation turns to the ageing population and how everyone’s going to “cope” with us when we start falling apart. But a new study says the answer is right under our nose.
Two reports by the BEACH research program of the University of Sydney’s Family Medicine Research Centre have shown just how important our local doctor is in maintaining the health of over-65s and also keeping costs down.
They found that older Australians use twice as many health resources as the rest of the nation, and almost all of us have a regular doctor or medical practice that we visit.
When comparing Australia’s healthcare costs to other countries, the researchers found that Australia spends around half as much per person than in the US, even though our average life expectancy is four years longer. The difference, say the authors, is that our health model is based on “primary cars” – that is, using GPs as “gatekeepers’ to more expensive care.
“We found that older Australians use far more primary care health resources and the proportion they are using is increasing over time. However, having these patients managed in general practice lowers overall health care costs by reducing expensive specialist and hospital visits, write the study authors.”
“If general practice wasn’t at the core of our health care system, it’s likely the overall costs of health care would be much higher.”
“This is the price Australia pays for good health, but we would argue this price is very reasonable,” say the study authors.
They recommend that any health care review include more funding for GPs and better access for all Australians.
This fascinating infographic shows how Australians over the age of 65 are using their GPs – where do you fit in?
Do you think more money should be spent on local doctors? Do you have a good GP?