Medicare failure: Completely avoidable chronic wounds costing Australians billions

Aug 28, 2022
Wounds Australia is calling on the Government to support a National Wound Services Scheme. Source: Getty

Chronic wounds have become a hidden epidemic across Australia, affecting mostly seniors and costing the nation a whopping $3 billion over budget, and experts are saying it’s completely preventable.

With over 420,000 Australians suffering from chronic wounds each year, hospital and emergency departments are holding the line of care for wounds that could have been avoided, due to a lack of medicare funding.

This medicare failure is having detrimental results as patients put off treatment through GPs due to an average out-of-pocket cost of $4,000.

“GPs struggle to treat chronic wounds patients because treatment time and wound dressing costs are not covered by Medicare,” a statement from Wounds Australia read.

“People with chronic wounds are delaying treatment, resulting in avoidable amputations, surgeries and deaths.

“Last year, almost 200,000 people visited hospital emergency departments for wounds that could have been prevented or treated by wound care clinicians in the community.”

The Wound Prevention and Management Centre said pressure injuries are the most common and preventable chronic wound seen in Australia.

“Yet these painful wounds cost the Australian health budget almost $1 billion each year and result in over 500,000 lost hospital bed days,” the statement said.

Wounds Australia Chair Hayley Ryan is calling on the Government to support a National Wound Services Scheme, resulting in freeing up hospital beds, cutting hospital and emergency wait times, and saving billions of dollars.

“Health Minister Mark Butler can reduce the time and cost required to heal chronic wounds by supporting a National Wound Services Scheme,” Ryan said.

“This would subsidise wound products for people with venous leg ulcers or diabetic foot ulcers, people aged 65+, and government concession card holders.

“Subsidising venous leg ulcer compression therapy alone could save the Federal Government $1.2 billion and save patients $236 million in out-of-pocket costs over five years.”

The Minister for Health and Aged Care Mark Butler said the Albanese Government has a strong focus on the nation’s health system, announcing the appointment of the Strengthening Medicare Taskforce on July, 28.

“Our health system is under pressure, our doctors need support, and we need to reduce pressure on hospitals,” Butler said.

“The Albanese Government is committed to restoring affordable and accessible health care.

“Our Strengthening Medicare Taskforce are a diverse group of health experts and consumer representatives who will provide practical advice to help us start fixing our health care and make it easier for Australians to see a doctor.”

IMPORTANT LEGAL INFO This article is of a general nature and FYI only, because it doesn’t take into account your personal health requirements or existing medical conditions. That means it’s not personalised health advice and shouldn’t be relied upon as if it is. Before making a health-related decision, you should work out if the info is appropriate for your situation and get professional medical advice.

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