Medical and Healthcare in Australia
The statistics and growth of medical and healthcare industry
Over the years, the medical and healthcare industry in Australia has been making the buzz for all the right reasons. In 2011, health care and social assistance was announced as Australia’s largest industry. And the healthcare industry hasn’t looked back since then; it has an annual growth rate of 3.4%, bringing forth an annual revenue of AU$94 million, which is forecasted to rise to $108 billion in next five years. More than 1.5 million people -- which comprises of doctors, nurses, dentists, physiotherapists, childcare workers, and aged care providers -- are employed in this sector, a grand 12.9% of the total labour force.
Many factors have contributed to this driving trend in the industry here in Australia. We’ve got an ageing population that’s been an issue of interest for many, and the demographics of the government statistics imply that “every state and territory may experience significant ageing of the population between now and 2040.” The ageing population tends to require more services in healthcare and social assistance. The annual economic prosperity that’s increased our wealth does ensure that we spend more on healthcare and welfare too. To add, the advances in medical science that’s brought in better, innovative products and treatment facilities to our market have clearly aided the growth of the medical and healthcare industry in Australia.
The statistics don’t lie; the industry is clearly on the rise. From the statistics of 2016, there are 701 public hospitals spread across Australia with 61,000 hospital beds, and 630 private hospitals with 33,100 beds. The demand for medical professionals in the industry is on the surge, now more than ever. And yet, there is a shortage of supply. According to a report published by HealthWorkforce, there will nearly be a shortage of 3,000 doctors, over 100,000 nurses and more than 80,000 registered nurses by 2025.
But while the job is on the escalation, many practitioners still haven’t found the right job placement that meets their needs. And the medical practices still face challenges in finding the right candidate for their requirements. The gap in the industry, therefore, exists in most of the areas.
Medicare and Payment Mechanism in Australia
The universal healthcare system in Australia is funded primarily by Medicare, which is operated by the Department of Human Services. It funds larger part of the cost of health services, and the amount paid includes:
- Medicare covers 75% of a general practitioner, 85% of a specialist, 100% of the public in hospital costs.
- Other concessions or benefits that patients may be entitled to
- Once patients cross the safety net threshold, patients may be entitled to further benefits, and it’s based on health expenditure for the year.
The remaining cost is to be paid by the patient, which can be covered partly or wholly by health insurance. Other than that, the service provider may choose bulk billing, whereby the patient charges only scheduled fee, and leaves patients with no entitlement to pay the pocket costs. The financial part of Medicare comes from a Medicare levy, which comes from income tax surcharge, currently 2% of person’s taxable income.
Other funding mechanisms include the 30% private health insurance rebate and the pharmaceutical benefits. The aim of the structure and the mechanisms is to ensure that every Australian citizen and most permanent residents have access to the quality health care and service, despite their personal circumstances, at a more affordable cost.
Medical practitioners must understand this mechanism first so that they can seek the right demand for salary and benefit packages when they seek for jobs.
Programs and Bodies
Federal initiatives and state programmes are probably the two governing bodies maintaining the medical and healthcare system in Australia.
The integral part of the federal initiative is the Medicare Australia, that administers the Medicare mechanism and the major concern for them is the payment of doctors, nursing staff and financing of the government hospitals.
Apart from that the Pharmaceutical Benefits Schemes provides subsidies to patients for medication, the level of subsidy depends on several tests. Many free immunisations charges are provided by the National Immunisation Program Schedules, and Australian Organ Donor Register looks out for the registration and election of organ donors. The medical devices and medicines are looked after by the Therapeutic Goods Administration in Australia, while Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service maintains the risk of foreign disease through goods and people moving in and out of the nation.
For health-related statistics, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare plays its national role, with its publication Australia’s Health acting as a key resource in the industry.
In state programmes, there are public hospitals that are operated by each state, and healthcare initiatives that check in each specific problem such as school dental health or breast cancer screening programmes.
Other non-government organizations like Australian Red Cross Blood Service and National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) has its own role in keeping the quality of the medical system.
Private healthcare in Australia
Most population in Australia has a certain level of private health covered. It is compulsory for any expat moving to Australia for working or student or dependent visa or any other visa, to have their health insurance covered at least on the minimum level to get their visas.
In case there is a reciprocal health agreement in place between the country the expat is from and Australia, the person still needs to take the health insurance to be legible to obtain the visa. At times, these can be expensive. However, there are certain facilities such as free treatment at the public hospital, subsidized medicines, and others, to keep the reciprocal health agreement intact.
Considering all of these systems and infrastructures in place for healthcare in Australia, the quality of care in Australia has been found to be one of the most ranked countries all over the world, with ranking tied with New Zealand, and far above the U.S., but still a little below the UK and German systems.