The Australian Health Care System - How it works

The Australian Health Care system is unique from any in the world. It is based on a "health for all" policy which uses a hypothecated tax to fund access to health care through Medicare. What does this mean I hear you ask? It means that a portion of your taxes is solely set aside toward funding health services. Most working people in Australia pay 1.1% of their income to fund Medicare.

Medicare is a system by which every Australian resident has access to health care at no or low cost. Some countries have what is called a reciprocal agreement whereby you are able to be treated in a public hospital for free, so it is worth finding out before you come to Australia if you are eligible for this.

Who can use it?

The Australian Health care system has both public and private services. In-patient hospitals that are publicly funded are free to access if you are eligible under Medicare. Private Hospitals are fee for service, anyone an access them but you have to pay. General Practice services are clinics run in the community where you gain access to see a doctor, these are usually privately owned but Medicare subsidises the fee. A normal fee is about $30-$40 out of pocket after the medicare subsidy. Allied Health and Alternative therapies are also subsidised in certain circumstances. Be aware at this stage dental is not covered under medicare and all dental work is fee for service.

The health funding in Australia is currently under reform so I will keep the website updated as theses reforms are made. Currently the Federal Government give each State a bucket of funds and the State is responsible to utilise some of those funds for the provision and management of health services individually. Whilst there are movements towards a more preventative and social model of health, Australia's system is primarily a medical model focused on treatment rather than prevention. The major funding of health services is in provision of major hospitals providing in patient care.

Quality Health Care

There are many regulatory mechanisms that provide assurance that Australian Health Care provision is maintained to a high standard. There is mandatory Quality Accreditation which all public hospitals must pass to ensure provision of funding. This accreditation focuses on issues such as access, safety, quality of care and consumer engagement. There is also the regulation of certain professions to ensure that the staff providing care have the correct education and skills to provide quality care. There are also other legislative requirements and policies which must be adhered to for example Workplace Safety, Drugs and Poisons and many more.

On the following pages I will highlight some of the places to work and suggest some great places to see in each state. It would be impossible to give each and every State a comprehensive presentation so I have used my experiences in Australia to give examples and have asked colleagues in the industry to give some of theirs as well.

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