The UK Health System vs. Australian Health System

Topics: Health economics, Health care, Medicine Pages: 10 (3072 words) Published: June 12, 2013
All people across the globe are entitled to the health attention they require. The World Health Organization has identified five elements to achieve this goal. These include reducing social disparities in health, providing services that meet clients’ expectations, altering public policies to address health, leadership reforms and increasing stakeholder participation (WHO, 2013). With the focus on these five areas, Governments in each country are creating health systems that aim to provide services that are affordable, equitable and accessible. To achieve a sustainable health system, cooperation and participation of all health care providers is vital. This will work towards WHO’s goal of achieving “better health for all” (WHO, 2013). One of the systems, structured by the United Kingdom (UK), is called the National Health Service (NHS). This system is generally publicly funded. To allow this, the UK government uses a percentage of the taxes paid by members of the public to fund health services. This is also the case for Australia’s healthcare system, Medicare. However despite the common basis of the two health systems, there are also many differences that result in contrasting health outcomes.

Differences between the two systems

Private health:
The private sector is a vital component of the healthcare system in Australia. The Federal Government has introduced some incentives to promote private health insurance. This includes offering a 30% rebate on annual premiums of those who take up private health insurance (Department of Health and Aged Care, 2000). However, in the UK, it is often by individual’s own initiative to take up private health insurance. This is due to patients in the UK experiencing much longer waiting periods compared to Australia, and would often consider the NHS undependable (Gillies, 2003).

Funding health care services:
In Australia, public funding is a combination of contributions at the federal, state and local levels of government while in the UK there is a single payer system that is funded by general revenues (Brown, 2003, p. 53). The Australian Government funds almost 70% of total health expenditure (Wilcox, 2001, p. 156). The PBS by Medicare in Australia, subsidizes some services for patients; whereas, the NHS in the UK does not offer any deductions on services (Gillies, 2003). In Australia, public funding is a combination of contributions at the federal, state and local levels of government while in the UK there is a single payer system that is funded by general revenues (Brown, 2003, p. 53).

Prescription costs are different in Australia and UK. Under the NHS, there are certain groups that are exempted from paying for prescribed medication. These include “children under the age of 16; young people aged 16-18 and enrolled in full time education; people over 60; people with low incomes; pregnant women and those who have given birth in the past 12 months; and people with certain conditions or disabilities” (The Commonwealth Fund, 2012). In Australia, prescriptions are not free of charge for any individual. However, The PBS does provide subsidies for those entitled to a health care card or concession card, to ease the pressures of expensive medications.

Similarities between the two systems

While there are many differences between the health care systems in Australia and UK, there are also many similarities. Both health care systems believe in the ideology of a universal health system for their residents and are both largely publicly financed (Harley et. al., 2011). In both Australia and the UK, healthcare funding requires employees to contribute a portion of their wages. Although they are very similar in nature, in Australia, this is known as a Medicare Levy; while, in the UK it is referred to as a National Health Insurance contribution. In Australia, public funding accounted for 68% of the total funds and in the 88% in the UK (WHO 2009). Similarly, private...

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