This article from Croakey looks at the findings of the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) annual report on public hospital activity Admitted patient care 2015-16: Australian hospital statistics. For the first time the AIHW looked at waiting times for elective surgery by funding source, reportedly at the direct request of the Minister for Health.
The report found that there was significant variation in waiting times depending on the funding source as well as the type of surgery performed.
In fact, public patients were found to have a median waiting time of 42 days for elective surgery, more than twice as long as the average waiting time of 20 days for patients who used private health insurance to fund all or part of their admission.
Further research will shed light on the details of public hospitals’ practices in this area but will be unlikely to address some of the more fundamental questions this issue raises. These include how to reconcile a commitment to equity and universality within our public health system with a system of PHI which promises preferential treatment for some. Health Minister Greg Hunt may soon find himself in deep waters if he insists on wading into the murky depths of health financing reform without understanding the complexities and co-dependence of public and private funding systems.
Read the full article - Public hospitals, private patients and cost-shifting | Croakey