Today some of my Twitter friends seemed to be getting very concerned about what has happened and what may be happening soon, to the Australian health system. I am a little worried about progress on mental health care, but not convinced that the government can force much privatisation on the populace.
First, several Tweeps were convinced that the article by Mark Metherell in The Age newspaper http://m.theage.com.au/national/health-group-lures-private-patients-from-public-system-20111104-1n04h.html
Health group lures private patients from public system, meant that the government was quietly divesting itself of publicly-funded healthcare and “forcing” people to buy into the private system. The article also implies that the private hospitals will “lure away” people who need particular types of care by demonstrating a better record on several health measures, eg. rates of hospital-acquired infections, higher recovery rates from some surgery etc. As I read it, there ARE some advantages to private hospital care for some conditions, but ONLY for younger, less complex cases. Public hospitals take the sickest people and are often willing to risk complications in the hope of saving a life that others might not see as worth the extra investment of time and effort.
On the other hand, hospitals already co-operate in the use of resources and specialists. For instance, when my partner needed an emergency operation to have his gall bladder removed, the health system did lots of juggling between different surgeons and hospitals so that he could be operated as soon as possible.The public hospital that gave him 24 hours of doctors, nurses, drugs & accommodation didn’t charge him a cent for this care! Meanwhile they rushed him by ambulance to a private hospital where the surgeon got theatre time, operated swiftly, and only had one extra day there.
If he had been able to stay in the public hospital and have the same surgeon operate under his “public hat”, then he wouldn’t have paid a cent for anything.
This sort of cooperation is the norm.
NONE OF THIS WILL CHANGE for publicly funded patients under the health reform arrangements in Australia. If you need care, you will get it as quickly as possible and necessary. For people who HAVE PRIVATE EXTRA INSURANCE [only NECESSARY if your income is over $140 000 for a family, or you pay an extra 0.5% tax], the government will require them to USE it if hospitalised in the public system. Previously you only had to claim on it if you used extra private services while in the public hospital. Soon people will have to draw on it when it’s available. That’s all.