Nnew Aihw Report: Expenditure On Health For Aboriginal And Torres Strait Islander

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8th October 2010, 11:45am - Views: 842

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Indigenous health expenditure patterns vary by


Expenditure on health for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people varies with

remoteness, but the patterns differ between each of the major types of health spending,

according to estimates released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare


‘It really is a mixed picture,’ said Richard Juckes, Head of the AIHW’s Expenditure and

Economics Unit.

‘Our report, Expenditure on health for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people 200607: an

analysis by remoteness and disease, shows that Indigenous vs non-Indigenous health spending

patterns are quite different from city to regional and remote areas, depending on whether we

are talking about Medicare, the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme or hospital spending.’

‘For example, with Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) expenditure in 2006–07, overall per

person spending was lower for Indigenous Australians at 58 cents to every dollar spent on

non-Indigenous Australians. But in remote areas it was more like 77 cents to every dollar.’

‘For GP services, the per-person amounts spent were virtually equal between Indigenous

and non-Indigenous Australians in Outer Regional, and Remote/Very Remote areas. But for

the category of Medicare-funded services that includes surgical operations and other

procedures, Indigenous spending was less than one-third of non-Indigenous spending in

most areas.’

The report shows that expenditure on pharmaceuticals available through the Pharmaceutical

Benefits Scheme (PBS) increased with remoteness for Indigenous Australians ($159 per

person in major cities, $223 in Remote/Very remote areas), but fell with remoteness for non-

Indigenous Australians ($285 per person down to $200 per person).

Mr Juckes said the higher PBS expenditure for Indigenous Australians in remote areas was

driven by government arrangements which allow patients attending an approved remote-

area Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health service to receive PBS medicines without

the need for a prescription form, and at no charge.

According to the report, over 40% of hospital admissions for Aboriginal and Torres Strait

Islander people in 2006-07 were for the disease grouping that includes diseases where kidney

dialysis is a treatment. This category was also responsible for the highest health expenditure,

accounting for 10% of total Indigenous admitted patient expenditure.

For their non-Indigenous counterparts, these diseases were also responsible for the highest

proportion of hospital admissions, accounting for 16% of all admissions, while

cardiovascular diseases had the highest expenditure, accounting for 12% of total admitted

patient expenditure. 

Canberra, 6 October 2010

Further information: Richard Juckes, AIHW, tel. (02) 6249 5126, mob. 0422 007 924

For media copies of the report: Publications Officer 02 6244 1032

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