The Australian health system is widely regarded as being world-class, in terms of both its effectiveness and efficiency. The system is a mixture of public and private sector health service providers and a range of funding and regulatory mechanisms.
The Australian Government’s funding includes three major national subsidy schemes, Medicare, the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme and the 30% Private Health Insurance Rebate.
Medicare and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme cover all Australians and subsidise their payments for private medical services and for a high proportion of prescription medicines. Under Medicare, the Australian and State governments also jointly fund public hospital services so they are provided free of charge to people who choose to be treated as public patients. Australian Government funding of the 30% Rebate and other key incentives support people’s choice to take up and retain private health insurance.
Medicare is Australia’s universal health care system introduced in 1984 to provide eligible Australian residents with affordable, accessible and high-quality health care.
Medicare was established based on the understanding that all Australians should contribute to the cost of health care according to their ability to pay. It is financed through progressive income tax and an income-related Medicare levy.
Medicare provides access to: free treatment as a public (Medicare) patient in a public hospital, and free or subsidised treatment by medical practitioners including general practitioners, specialists, participating optometrists or dentists (for specified services only).
Medicare does not pay towards ambulance costs, dental services, physiotherapy, spectacles, podiatry, chiropractic services, or private hospital accommodation.
People make their contribution to the health care system through taxes and the Medicare levy based on their income, and through private financing such as private health insurance.
The aim of the national health care funding system is to give all Australians, regardless of their personal circumstances, access to health care at an affordable cost or at no cost, while allowing choice for individuals through substantial private sector involvement in delivery and financing.
Of course Austraia also has a number of private healthcare providers.