What Australians Told Us About Our Health System

For the fourth year running, a survey of over 1,500 Australians around the country were asked about their views on our health system, their understanding of the services offered in private and public hospitals, and how they viewed aspects like quality and performance. As in 2011, the survey conducted in 2013 confirmed that:

  • Australians are concerned with a number of aspects of the health system – not so much the quality of care, but waiting times and the resourcing of hospital staff to meet the demand for services.
  • Private hospitals are an integral part of Australia’s health system and Australians recognise the contribution they make in easing the pressure on the public system.  Further, residents recognise that the public system would be severely compromised if private healthcare was not available.
  • Australians are increasingly aware that private hospitals offer the same range of services (with the exception of organ donation) that public hospitals do.  What Australians particularly value about private hospitals is the timely access to these services, having a choice of doctor and more personal attention.
  • Private health insurance is instrumental in the ability to access private hospital treatment and indeed is a key driver in the decision of those who choose to be treated at a private hospital.  However, the cost of private healthcare is a key barrier, making it unattainable for more Australians.  Increasing cost of living, increasing private health insurance premiums and increasing out-of-pocket costs are impacting Australians who, despite the benefits they see private hospitals offering, are questioning the value for money.
  • There has been a significant drop in the incidence of private health insurance policies in the past two years. On top of this, more than one in three Australians who have private health insurance are considering downgrading or cancelling their cover.
  • The introduction of means testing the private health insurance rebate compounds the situation in two ways:
    • Financial impact
    • Confusion/ complexity of the system

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