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Australians’ experiences with access to health care in 2011-12

The National Health Performance Authority has put out its first Healthy Communities report which shows data on the various factors relating to health and access to medical services by Medicare Local areas. 

The report has some very interesting information that shows enormous variations in health needs and access issues across areas, underscoring the importance of developing strategies to address local health needs through Medicare Locals (MLs).

Key findings for example include:

  • The proportion of people with a long term health condition (including arthritis) varied from 34% to 60% across ML areas.
  • GP attendance varies 3-fold across areas but this does not relate to the age profile of local populations; some MLs with catchments with less healthy populations have fewer GP attendances and some with healthier populations have more GP attendances.
  • The proportion of adults who had to wait longer than acceptable times for specialist appointments varied from 16% to 35%.
  • The proportion of adults reporting they delayed or did not see a medical specialist or fill prescriptions due to cost varied from 3% to 14% and from 5% to 15% respectively.
  • GP bulk billing rates varied form 50% to 96%, and these rates were independent of the health status of the local population. Higher use of GPs however is strongly correlated with MLs that have a higher rate of GP billing.

Download the full report here.


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