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Billions spent by Australians on out-of-pocket Medicare costs

Australians spend $29.4 billion each year.

report from the Australian Government’s Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has revealed the estimated spend on out-of-pocket health expenses in Australia from 2015 to 2016.

It was estimated that $29.4 billion is spent each year Australia-wide.

This equates to roughly $1,195 per person.

According to the report, in 2016 to 2017 approximately 5.5 million patients needed to pay out-of-pocket expenses towards their non-hospital Medicare services. The other half had the full cost paid for by the government.

The report also highlights that patients residing in primary health network metropolitan areas were more likely to have their out-of-pocket expenses covered than patients living in primary health network regional areas.

More than seven in ten people who attended a specialist consultation encountered out-of-pocket costs. In local areas, the median out-of-pocket cost differed from $36 to $97 per specialist service.

In a statement released by AIHW, spokesperson Michael Frost explained the factors that could affect the difference in the amount people paid for out-of-pocket expenses.

“A range of factors can influence out-of-pocket costs. These can include the types of services the patient requires, the availability of bulk billing and the cost of services in their area,” Mr Frost said.

The report also states that 6.5 percent of Australians over the age of 15 claimed they had delayed or chosen not to go to a GP, specialist, pathology or imaging service that they needed due to the cost.

That number is lower for residents in North Western Melbourne with 6.2 percent of residents not seeing a medical specialist or delaying their visit due to the cost in the last 12 months.

The AIHW said the new findings will be used to help health service providers and policymakers understand the needs of their local areas.

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