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Health Care in Australia
A Healthy Environment!
With an average life expectancy in Australia of 80 years and a low infant mortality rate of 4.83 deaths per 1,000 live births, Australians enjoy some of the best health standards in the world! In addition, Australia has stringent measures in place to prevent the spread of infectious diseases such as SARS and tuberculosis.
There is a comprehensive immunisation program to minimise the risk of childhood
diseases such as measles, polio and whooping cough; and the elderly are protected
by annual flu vaccinations.
Other forms of preventative health care include screenings for early diagnosis of serious illnesses such as breast cancer and campaigns to educate people about the spread of transferable diseases such as HIV.
With universal access to Medicare (public healthcare) and a substantial private sector involvement, hospital facilities are first rate and doctors are able to practice in both sectors.
Total expenditure on health represents more than 8% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Australia; three quarters of which comes from federal government spending and one quarter from the private sector.
Medicare (Public Health Care)
Medicare, a universal system of health insurance, was introduced in 1984. It is funded in part through a taxation levy of 1.5% of income. Under Medicare, all citizens and permanent residents of Australia are entitled to free public hospital care, complementary or subsidised consultations with medical practitioners, and discounted prescription medicines.
Although the federal government is responsible for funding the health care system, State and Territory governments have primary responsibility for the actual provision of health services, including hospital and community health services, maternal and child health, occupational health and disease control initiatives.
Private Health Care
About one third of all Australians also choose to take out private health insurance. This covers treatment as a private patient in both public and private hospitals and a range of other health services, such as dental, optical and physiotherapy. The federal government seeks a greater balance between public and private sector involvement in health care, by encouraging more people to take out private health insurance, while keeping Medicare as the universal safety net.
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