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Australia And Its Healthcare System

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Australia And Its Healthcare System

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Australia And Its Healthcare System

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Universal health care or universal health coverage, generally refers the system related to the health care, which focused on providing health care, as well as, the financial protection to all the individuals of the particular country. According to the Director-General of the WHO, Dr Margaret Chan, universal health coverage is the single and most powerful concept offered to the public health. Universal health care unifies all the services and delivers them in the most integrated and comprehensive way, based on the primary health care. The global coalition, nowadays, have accelerated the access to the universal coverage.  
It has been observed that the global coalition consisting of more than 500 health and development organizations globally is urging the governments for accelerating the reforms to ensure every individual at any place, can access the services related to the quality health without being subjected to poverty (“The importance of government policies in reducing employment related health inequalities”, 2010). Further, the coalition lays emphasis on the necessity of the universal access to various health services for the  purpose of saving lives, terminating extreme poverty, and  building resilience against different  health effects due to the climate change, as well as, ending the occurrence of the deadly epidemics like Ebola. In this article, we are going to discuss about Australia and its healthcare policies that aids in the process of the universal health coverage. Various policies like the Health Insurance Commission, Department of Veterans, The Department of Family and Children’s Services, The Health Department of Western Australia, and Medicare policy are present in Australia that promotes the cause of equal health to everyone and provides the financial aids to the patients (Bates, 2010).
Australia and its Healthcare system
Healthcare provisions over the decade: Australia consists of a complex system of health care, including various kinds of services, providers, and a wide range of regulatory mechanisms and the funding mechanisms. In Australia, both the public, as well as, the private sectors provide health care and funding involving all the  levels of government in the process. Australia, mainly has a tax-funded system of the health care, with subsidized medical services via the universal national health insurance scheme. Moreover, the health services in Australia are administered by the federal system by Australia’s government, which are delivered by various publics, as well as, the private providers. The Australian Government is also known as the “Federal Government”, or “the Common­wealth” focuses on funding instead of providing health services. The government also subsidizes various pharmaceuticals, as well as, the residential care involving the elderly (Humphreys & Weinand, 2010). The main changes that have been observed in the health care system of Australia over the past decade consists of the public support provided for the private health insurance, a rise in the Medicare schedule fee from 85% to 100% for the general practitioners to counteract the drop occurring in the bulk-billing, various efforts in the formulation and implementation of the national policies with the help of various intergovernmental forums, like the Australian Health Ministers Conference and the Council of Australian Governments, and the national government funding for coordinated care programs. Increased attention to be laid in the planning of the workforce following a report made by the Productivity Commission based on the shortages of professional and inflexible practices related to the healthcare, more initiatives taken related to the e-health, and huge attention was paid towards the quality of the care, as well as, the safety of the patient (Murray & Skull, 2005).  
Financial model adopted to ensure health for all: The Commonwealth plays the leadership role in financing and health policy-making given it the constitutional mandate and ‘the power of the purse.’ The Commonwealth funds, administers the schedule related to the Medicare Benefits, which includes payments to the practitioners, the Pharmaceutical Benefits Schedule involving the subsidized drug purchases, and the Australian Health Care Agreements, which contributes to the funds to various states for running the public hospitals. Moreover, the Commonwealth also makes Goods and Services Revenue Grants to make the general budget revenue provided to the states, as well as, the territories, it proposes direct grants to various non government organizations related to the health services, and also negotiates with the Public Health Outcome Funding Agreements existing in the states for ensuring undertaking of the certain activities related to the public health (Cai & Kalb, 2006). Various policies and programs have been adopted by the government to provide financial aid to the citizens. For instance, Medicare is the service of the federal government that provides services and payment for the health care, as well as, the medicine. The Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme made by the government also subsidizes the cost pertaining to most of the medicines. The National Health and Medical Research Council is the main funding body of the Australian government for health, as well as, the medical research. The Health Insurance Commission is another body that is involved in the processes and pays all the claims and benefits, as well as, the records on the relevant data based on the Medicare and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (Donato & Segal, 2013).
Principles Adopted To Ensure Effective Health Care Systems: The development of various sets of principles by the Commission focuses on shaping the whole health, as well as, the aged care system to the large extent covering all the public, private, community, as well as, hospital based services. These priniciples include the provision of the comprehensive services throughout the continuum of care, patient focus, which means that the delivery of the care should meet the needs of the  patients instead of the physician, geographic coverage meaning that the services should reach to every corner of the regions without neglecting the smaller and rural areas, delivery of standardized care with the help of interprofessional teams, which in turn will promote the continuity of the health care, information systems that maintains the electronic health records of all the patients, governance structure, which focuses on the working of various organizations and services in collaboration with each other for the upliftment of the integrated health systems, and financial management to provide better health care to all the individuals irrespective of their social and economical status (Day, 2008).
Relation between the policies and the principles: Various policies have been implemented for carrying out these principles related to the provision of the health care services. For instance, Territory Health Services involve the administration of the health services for the individuals across the Northern Territory covering its vast geographic area. The Council of Australian Governments, coordinates Commonwealth, state, as well as, the territory government’s activities at the highest level (Podger, 2014). The Department of Family and Children’s Services brings together the income support, as well as, the range of various community services to the single department. The Department of Veterans’ Affairs focuses on paying compensation, as well as, the income support, allied health, fund hospital services, community support programs, and counselling for all the war veterans and their dependants. The department mainly of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health aids special funding programs for various  Indigenous Australians and funding of various community-controlled health programs to deliver the additional health care (Etheredge, 2005).
Role of the government in the healthcare system: Behind the conductance of the services related to the health system, there is a network of Australia’s government and its support mechanisms, which enables various health policies, legislation, regulation, coordination, as well as, the funding aspects related to the delivery of the quality health services. The governance, coordination, as well as, the regulation of the health services in Australia is a big task, and involves the responsibility of all the divisions and the levels of the government in a joint collaboration, with the planning, as well as, delivering of the health care services (Blewett, 2010).
Legislation and the policies: The health care system of the Australia is an extensive, complex, loosely organized, and technically sophisticated system. High standards related to the medical care, usually prevail throughout various health care industries, as well as, the whole of the country. The health care system is described by various legislations and policies focusing on the equity of the services. The federal structure of the Australia’s government consists of the Commonwealth, State, as well as, territory, which all played the role and are involved in the Australia’s health system (Duckett, 2008).  The dominant role played by the practitioners in the private sector during the provision of the care, usually on the basis of the fee-forservice is reduced with the increasing influence of the governments on the structure of the services related to the health care through different financing arrangements. There is universal access to the quality related to the medical care through the  Commonwealth, as well as, the State funding system for Medicare. Moreover, there is a substantial private funding, which is regulated and  supported by the Commonwealth to offer a degree of care in the system, particularly for the hospital care (Radford, 2010). 
Promotion of the universal health coverage in the country: The Universal Health Coverage is becoming the main and the growing focus of health globally, as well as, of sustainable development. Coverage of different population groups, financial protection, as well as, the benefits packages are the basic necessities of Universal Health Coverage in the global dialogue. The approach of Australia for delivering health services is underpinned by the approach of the universal health care system, which includes access of various health care services under the Medicare Benefits Schedule for free, as well as, subsidized health services, various benefits provided for the medical, as well as, the pharmaceutical services, there is an access to the required and affordable medicines via the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), and as a public patient there is a provision of the free public hospital treatment (“The Adelaide Statement on Health in All Policies: moving towards a shared governance for health and well-being”, 2010). Moreover, the private health care system have the provision of the Medicare, which allows the citizens of the country to make a large financial contribution for attaining the health care in revert for the greater choice related to their receiving care (Broadhead, 2010). It has been observed that the Health expenditure is one of the major areas of the Commonwealth spending, and around $65 billion had been spent on the health services in the year 2013-14, which accounted for about 16%  of the total expenditure of the Commonwealth. New knowledge, as well as, advancement in the technology is the fundamental drivers in delivering high quality of health care to the citizens of the country. Moreover, the government intervention regarding the supply of health care focuses on providing the cost-effective, quality health care services to the individuals who would otherwise be not  able to afford the basic health services even, as this is regarded as the most effective, as well as, socially acceptable method to ameliorate the disadvantage faced by these individuals. Hence, these initiatives and policies of the government are contributing to the universal health coverage in the country, irrespective of the individual’s social and economic status (“Government plans health and social care integration”, 2013).  
Summary of the key highlights: As per the discussion, it has been observed that the Health is of utmost importance in the Australia. The current health system of Australia has many strengths, as well as, the country has also produced an excellent health results for most of its citizens. However, the nature of the Australia’s health care is really complex and involves the major role of the government in regulating the proper and equal health care services to all the individuals and in the health system. The major expenditure in Australia is seen to be on the health care system with total expenditure of about $140.2 billion in the year 2011-2012, i.e. about 9.5% of the total gross domestic product of the country, compared with about expenditure of $82.9 billion in the year 2001-02 and around $132.6 billion in the 2010-11. Approximately, 70% of the total expenditure on the health care system during the period 2011-12 had been funded by the  governments, where about 42.4% was funded by the Australian Government and about 27.3% was funded by the state, as well as, the territorial governments (Pinto, Molnar, Shankardass, O’Campo, & Bayoumi, 2015). Hence, by the above discussion, we can see that the Australia has made a very great progress regarding the improvement of the health of its entire population and is working towards achieving Universal Health Coverage. 
Bates, E. (2010). THE CONSUMER AND THE HEALTH CARE SYSTEM. Community Health Studies, 2(2), 73-80.
Broadhead, P. (2010). SOCIAL STATUS AND MORBIDITY IN AUSTRALIA. Community Health Studies, 9(2), 87-98.
Cai, L. & Kalb, G. (2006). Health status and labour force participation: evidence from Australia. Health Econ., 15(3), 241-261.
Day, G. (2008). Book Review: The Australian health care system. Aust. Health Review, 32(2), 371.
Donato, R. & Segal, L. (2013). Does Australia have the appropriate health reform agenda to close the gap in Indigenous health?. Aust. Health Review.
Duckett, S. (2008). The Australian health care system: reform, repair or replace?. Aust. Health Review,32(2), 322.
Etheredge, L. (2005). Is It Time For A Government-Run Health Care System?. Health Affairs, 24(2), 564-565.
Government plans health and social care integration. (2013). Primary Health Care, 23(5), 4-4.
Humphreys, J. & Weinand, H. (2010). HEALTH STATUS AND HEALTH CARE IN RURAL AUSTRALIA: A CASE STUDY. Community Health Studies, 13(3), 258-275.
Murray, S. & Skull, S. (2005). Hurdles to health: immigrant and refugee health care in Australia. Aust. Health Review, 29(1), 25.
Pinto, A., Molnar, A., Shankardass, K., O’Campo, P., & Bayoumi, A. (2015). Economic considerations and health in all policies initiatives: evidence from interviews with key informants in Sweden, Quebec and South Australia. BMC Public Health, 15(1), 171.
Podger, R. (2014). Making Medicare: the Politics of Universal Health Care in Australia. Aust. Health Review, 38(1), 119.
The Adelaide Statement on Health in All Policies: moving towards a shared governance for health and well-being. (2010). Health Promotion International, 25(2), 258-260.
The importance of government policies in reducing employment related health inequalities. (2010).BMJ, 340(jun30 2), c3480-c3480.

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