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t h e h e a lt h o f y o u n g p e o p l e c h a p t e r 2

c h a p t e r

W h at r o l e d o h e a lt h c a r e fa c i l i t i e s a n d
s e r v i c e s p l ay i n a c h i e v i n g b e t t e r h e a lt h f o r
all Australians?
health care in Australia
evaluate health care in Australia by investigating issues of access and
adequacy in relation to social justice principles. Questions to explore
include:
how equitable is the access and support for all sections of the community?

Sample
student
answer

how much responsibility should the community assume for individual health
problems?
While Australia is a relatively healthy country in comparison to other nations, the healthcare system is
still extremely important. Its role is to provide quality health facilities and services to meet the needs of all
Australians.
Health services are organised, financed and delivered by both public and private sources. Healthcare
in Australia is dominated by medicine and is generally concerned with diagnosis, treatment, rehabilitation
and care of people with illness and injury.

range and types of health facilities and services


Health facilities and services provided in Australia can be classified into two areas.

Institutional facilities and services

Activity 1

Hospitals provide general and specialised healthcare. Patients in hospitals are classified as public or private
according to their choice of service. Public hospitals are operated and financed by the government, and
the healthcare service is free of charge for patients. Private hospitals are owned and operated by individuals
and community groups. Service must be paid for by the patients, although Medicare and private health
insurance refund most of the expense. In Australia, hospital admissions have increased whilst length of
stay has decreased.
Nursing homes provide care and long-term nursing attention for those who are unable to look after
themselves, such as the chronically ill, the elderly and people with disabilities. There are three types of
nursing homes in operation throughout Australiaprivate charitable (such as Anglicare), private for profit
and state government. The federal government funds the running of all nursing homes through taxes.
Psychiatric hospitals provide treatment for people with severe mental disorders. They use a system of care
that integrates hospital services and community settings.
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Non-institutional facilities and services


Medical services: These are services provided by doctors, specialists and other health professionals.
General practitioners are the most commonly used service, however consultation rates have increased.
Medicare refunds patients payments for these services. Specialists such as obstetricians, dermatologists,
orthopaedic surgeons, who have expertise in a particular field of medicine, are also used.
Health-related services: These include other services such as dentistry, optometry, nursing, ambulance
services and physiotherapy.
Pharmaceuticals: Drugs are supplied through prescription from doctors or hospitals (PBS) or over the
counter from shops or pharmacies. Pharmaceutical Benefit Scheme (PBS) drugs are subsidised by the
federal government for people with special needs.

responsibility for health facilities and services


The following groups are responsible for a range of health facilities and services within Australia.

Federal government
The formation of national health policies is the responsibility of the federal government. They control
funds obtained through taxes and allocate these to state or local government health sectors. The Australian
Government operates assistance programs, such as Medicare and PBS; and coordinates approved national
health programs, such as HIV/AIDS. They also support special programs such as the National Heart
Foundation and Royal Flying Doctor Service.

State or territory government


The responsibility for providing funding for health and community services, such as public hospitals, medical
practitioners, and family health services lies with the state or territory. At this level, governments also regulate
private hospitals and provide immunisation programs.

Local government
At a local level, governments are responsible for implementing state health policies and controlling local
environmental issues such as maintenance of recreational facilities. They are also responsible for providing a
range of personal, preventive and home care services such as waste disposal and Meals on Wheels.

Funding source

&
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State
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Service responsibility

ls

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ate c
P riv s e

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ic e

en
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es

to

d
rs pu b

sec

ica

er

funding and
responsibility

56

Private or out of pocket

ry

Australian
people

P riv at e

Med

Figure 3.1

State/territory and local governments

Indirect funding by subsidies or rebates

Health services

Australian Government

ls
ta
pi

Me
dic
ati
on
s

Pu
bli
cH
os

P ri v a
te
H os
iptals

e
Oth

Public sectorState/territory governments


Private sector
Combined private sector/
state/territory/local governments/
Australian Government

h e a lt h p r i o r i t i e s i n a u s t r a l i a c h a p t e r 3

Private sector
The private sector is responsible for providing a wide range of services, such as private hospitals and alternative
health services including dental, physiotherapy and chiropractic services. These services are generally privately
owned, funded and operated through businesses, charity or religious groups, such as Mayne Health. However,
some private sector services receive government funding such as the NSW Cancer Council.

Community groups
On a community level, these groups are responsible for promoting health within a more concentrated or
focused area of health, for example, the Asthma Foundation and Diabetes Australia.

equity of access to health facilities and services


The pursuit of equity of access to healthcare is a central objective of many healthcare systems. There are
two dimensions to equity of access to health facilities and services. The first is horizontal equity, which
refers to equal treatment for comparable needs. One example is Medicare, the national health insurance
system, which aims to provide the majority of Australians with equal access to basic healthcare. Another
example is the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), where the service provided by the Australian
Government ensures a range of necessary prescription medicines are made available at affordable prices to
all Australian residents.
The second dimension of equity of access is referred to as vertical equity. This involves the priority
treatment of those groups with increased health needs and reduced access to health facilities and
services, such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, and people of culturally and linguistically diverse
backgrounds. Horizontal and vertical equity are both essential aspects of a comprehensive health system,
however governments and service providers find it easier to work on a horizontal level of equity as it is less
complex and does not involve the issues associated with needing to prioritise population groups.
An example of a service addressing the vertically equitable need of geographic disadvantage is the Royal
Flying Doctor Service of Australia.
For geographic, social and cultural reasons, mainstream services are not always accessible to, or the
most appropriate form of service for, Indigenous people. Australian governments recognise this and apply
the principles of vertical equity to provide specific healthcare services to meet their needs.
Specific Indigenous health services have funding provided at federal and state or territory government
levels. The Australian Government, through the Office for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health
(OATSIH), provides funding for a range of Indigenous-specific community-controlled primary healthcare
services.
In 20052006, OATSIH funded 151 services to provide or facilitate access to primary healthcare for
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Overall, 58 of these services (39%) were in remote or very
remote locations.

Activity 2

45

Number of services

40
35
30
25

Figure 3.2

20

Geographical

15

distribution

10

of Australian

Government-

funded ATSI primary

Major cities

Inner regional

Outer regional
Remoteness area

Remote

Very remote

healthcare services,
20052006

Source: Department of Health and Ageing, Service Activity Reporting 20052006, unpublished data

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F e a t u r e a r t i c l e

Royal Flying Doctor


Service of Australia

Flying Doctor Service conducts some 12000


healthcare clinics each year, treating about
127000 patients. It is continuing to build
on its primary healthcare role for people
in remote areas. A large proportion of its
work also involves telephone and radio
consultations by doctors and nurses with
people at remote outposts.
The Royal Flying Doctor Service receives
grants from the federal, state and Northern
Territory governments, but also relies on
funds donated by the business sector and
the general public.

Figure 3.3

The Royal Flying Doctor


Service was founded in
1928 by the Reverend
John Flynn and is unique to Australia. It
provides a 24-hour, 365-day aeromedical
emergency and healthcare service to people
who live, work or travel in Australias
remote areas. The service has contact
with some 242000 patients each year,
about 35000 of whom are medically
transported. From its 21 bases, the service
has 47 aircrafts which fly over a territory of
7150000 km2 and cover almost 22 million
km annually.
Although probably best known for
its emergency evacuation role, the Royal

Since 1 July 2007, the Australian


Government has fully funded the
delivery of the Royal Flying Doctor
Services traditional services: aeromedical
evacuations, primary and community
healthcare clinics, telehealth consultations
and medical chests. Over the next four
years to 30 June 2011, the Australian
Government will provide up to an
additional $154.4 million in recurrent and
capital funding for this purpose, bringing
its total funding over this period as high
as $247 million. The state and Northern
Territory governments will continue to be
responsible for funding the transportation
of patients between hospitals.

These services offer many types of care, including management of acute and chronic health conditions,
preventative health measures, such as immunisation and screening, health promotion activities, transport
services and assistance in accessing other appropriate community and health services.

health care expenditure versus expenditure on early intervention and prevention


Health expenditure
Activities
3 and 4

58

Health expenditure is the allocation of funding and other economic resources for the provision and
consumption of health services. There are two types of expenditure:
Recurrent expenditureregular ongoing costs (salaries, bandages)
Capital expenditureinfrequent costs (buildings, equipment).

h e a lt h p r i o r i t i e s i n a u s t r a l i a c h a p t e r 3

In 20052006, government funding


for health was $58875 million (68% of
the total health expenditure), with the
Australian Government contributing $37229
million (43%) and state, territory and local
governments contributing $21646 million
(25%). The non-government sector
households, private health insurance and
other non-government sourcesfunded the
remaining $28004 million (32%).
Recurrent expenditure on health for
Indigenous people was estimated at $2304
million or nearly 3% of recurrent health
expenditure for the entire population.
This represents an average of $4718 per
Indigenous person, 17% higher than the
average of $4019 for other Australians
(AIHW 2008).
Seven broad disease groups accounted for an estimated $29827 million, or 57% of the available health
expenditure in Australia in 20042005. Cardiovascular disease was the most expensive disease group
($5923 million or 11% of expenditure) and oral health was the second most expensive ($5305 million or
10%).
Different illnesses have different patterns of expenditure by type of health service. Cardiovascular
diseases, musculoskeletal diseases, cancers and other neoplasms and injuries accounted for a relatively
high proportion of total expenditure on hospital admitted patient services.
Admitted patient services
Out-of-hospital medical services
Prescription pharmaceuticals
Other(a)
Research

Injuries
Respiratory
Neoplasms (including cancers)

Figure 3.4
An indigenous girl
receiving dialysis

Figure 3.5
Expenditure on
disease by area of
expenditure for
selected broad
disease groups,
20042005

Musculoskeletal
Mental disorders
Oral health
Cardiovascular
0

1 000

2 000

3 000

4 000

5 000

6 000

$ million
(a) Includes dental services.
Source: AIHW

Intervention and prevention expenditure


The term public health is also referred to as preventive health. Public health interventions focus on
prevention, promotion and protection rather than on treatment. It centres on populations rather than on
individuals and on the factors and behaviours that cause illness.
Public health activities can be programs, campaigns or events. They draw on a large range of methods,
such as health education, lifestyle advice, infection control, risk factor monitoring and tax increases to
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Figure 3.6

8.3%

Government
expenditure on
public health

16.6%

11.9%

activities, 20052006

Communicable disease control

Selected health promotion

Organised immunisation

Environmental health

Food standards and hygiene

Breast cancer screening

Cervical screening

Prevention of hazardous
and harmful drug use

Public health research


7.1%

16.9%

9.4%

Total funding: $1476 million

2.5%
5.7%

21.6%

Source: AIHW Health Expenditure Database

discourage unhealthy lifestyle choices. They also use multiple settings, such as schools, homes, work
places, through the media and via general practitioner consultations.
Early intervention and prevention strategies are carried out by federal, state or territory and local
governments, as well as non-government agencies, such as the Cancer Council and the Heart Foundation.
In 20052006, governments in Australia spent a total of $1476 million on public health activities
through programs administered by their health departments. This represented 1.8% of total recurrent
expenditure on health. Expenditure on organised immunisation accounted for $318 million (22% of all
government expenditure on public health activities) during 20052006 and was the largest single area
of such expenditure. Selected health promotion activities accounted for a further $250 million (17%)
and communicable disease control activities cost $245 million (17%). Activities directed at preventing
hazardous and harmful drug use accounted for $176 million (12%).
Its been seen so far that healthcare expenditure in Australia far exceeds expenditure on prevention and
health promotion. Programs aimed at prevention and health promotion, such as school education and
support programs, are efficient and increasingly accepted and used.
Nevertheless, governments still have not yet fully acknowledged health promotion as a cost-effective
method of reducing morbidity and mortality. The new public health approach focuses on shifting away
from medically dominated expenditure to health promotion expenditure.
The reasons for increasing funding and support for preventive and promotional health include:
cost-effectiveness (human and non-human resources)
improvement to quality of life
improved access and education
maintenance of social equity
use of existing structures
reinforcement of individual responsibility for health (empowerment).
Unfortunately, even though preventive health is generally cheaper, the benefits often take years to
translate into a visible reduction in illness or death. Current governments could spend money now on
programs that might be considered as risky political options if they are unsuccessful. Governments may
feel pressure to choose an option where results are short term and can be used as leverage for winning the
next election.

impact of emerging new treatments and technologies on health care eg cost and
access, benefits of early detection
Much of the rise in healthcare costs can be attributed to advances in medical technology. Diagnostic and
therapeutic advances, such as new radiological scanners, biological therapeutics, surgical procedures and
prostheses, come at a considerable cost. Listing these for subsidy through Medicare or the Pharmaceutical
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Benefits Scheme greatly increases their availability and use, and therefore the cost to
the community. Failing to subsidise them inevitably raises questions about why new
medical advances are not available to all Australians and generates political pressure.
Treatments and technologies have emerged that address the essential needs of
access and early detection. Two programs that have been effective in achieving
this are cancer screening and childhood vaccinations.

Cancer screening
There are national population screening programs in Australia for breast, cervical
and bowel cancers. Their goals are to reduce morbidity and mortality from these
cancers through early detection of cancer and pre-cancerous abnormalities and
effective follow-up treatment. These programs are:
BreastScreen Australiausing mammography for screening
National Cervical Screening Programusing Pap smear tests
National Bowel Cancer Screening Programusing faecal occult blood tests.
These programs provide screening services that are free to women in the target
age group (for breast screening) and to men and women invited to participate in
bowel screening, or if they are covered by a Medicare rebate (for cervical screening).

Childhood vaccinations
The National Immunisation Program Schedule covers childrens vaccinations for diphtheria, tetanus,
whooping cough (pertussis), polio, measles, mumps, rubella, meningococcal type C disease, varicella
(chickenpox), hepatitis B, rotavirus and, for females aged 12 years and over, human papillomavirus (HPV).
Additionally, for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children living in high-risk areas, hepatitis A is covered.
In 20062007, nearly 3.7 million immunisations were delivered to children nationally (AIHW 2008).

health insurance: Medicare and private


describe the advantages and disadvantages of Medicare and private
health insurance eg costs, choice, ancillary benefits

Figure 3.7
Prostheses are
expensive to
develop

Activity 5

Medicare
Medicare is Australias universal healthcare system introduced in 1984 to provide eligible Australian residents
with affordable, accessible and high quality healthcare.
Medicare provides access to free treatment as a public (Medicare) patient in a public hospital, and free
or subsidised treatment by medical practitioners including general practitioners, specialists, participating
optometrists or dentists (for specified services only).
Medicare was established based on the understanding that all Australians should contribute to the cost
of healthcare according to their ability to pay. It is funded through the Australian Government, progressive
income tax and an income-related Medicare levy. Nearly everybody (except for those on welfare or very low
incomes) pays at least 1.5% of their earnings toward Medicare levy. It reimburses 85% of scheduled medical
fees for services provided outside hospital and 75% of scheduled fees for services provided inside a public
hospital. Individuals must pay the remaining 15%, commonly referred to as the gap. Bulk billing, which
eliminates the gap payment for patients, is also covered. This is where patients pay nothing and the medical
professionals bill Medicare to receive 85% of the scheduled consultation fee back.
The disadvantages to the individual and community in using Medicare include:
long waiting lists for surgery
additional costs and further strain for hospitals
additional costs to state government
patients may still be required to pay the gap amount left over from the general practitioners fee and the
amount paid by Medicare.
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Medicare Australia is responsible for


ensuring that Medicare benefits are paid to
eligible healthcare consumers for services
provided by eligible medical practitioners; and
for assessing and paying Medicare benefits for
a range of medical services, whether provided
in or out of hospital, based on a schedule of
fees determined by Department of Health
and Ageing in consultation with professional
bodies. For more information, go to the
Medicare website:

www.medicareaustralia.gov.au/
Private health insurance
Figure 3.8
Medicare provides
affordable
healthcare for
all resident
Australians

Private health insurance is funded through the


federal government and private contributions.
Private health insurance cover is generally divided into hospital cover, general treatment cover (also known as
ancillary or extras cover) and ambulance cover. Contributions are usually paid monthly or annually.
The advantages to the individual and community for having private health insurance include:
an option to cover extra services such as medical, ancillary, dental and optical
patients have a choice of hospital service (public or private)
special benefits
health cover while overseas
shorter waiting lists for surgery
decreased demand on public facilities.
Some areas of surgery are now performed predominantly in the private sector, and the 57% of
Australians without private health insurance must wait, often for months, for elective surgery in the public
system. This creates an equity challenge where access to care is based on ability to pay rather than need.
Specialist surgical training remains concentrated in the public sector, where the caseload is diminishing.
One of the disadvantages of joining the private health insurance sector is that it is heavily regulated.
This means that premiums for private health insurance are the same for all, whether they use it or not.
Also, Medicare must still be paid, which adds to the annual costs.
Additional insurance covers private hospital expenses, ambulance services, ancillary expenses and aids,
such as dental, physiotherapy and chiropractic; and options such as glasses. Patients may still be required
to pay an excess, which is the first part of the cost before the insurance company will pay. A higher excess
means a lower premium.
Access to health services is becoming less equitable. The out-of-pocket costs for patients have increased
50% in the past decade and for some this can present a sizeable barrier to needed care.
Australia has always had a health system that relies on public and private financing and service delivery.
This has been presented as a matter of choice.
Regional Australians have substantially lower levels of private health fund membership. In 2001, 50%
of people living in capital cities were covered by private health insurance compared with 44% living outside
capital cities. The main reason for the lower level of membership in regional areas is the limited availability of
private in-patient facilities. Only 16% of hospitals located outside major cities are private facilities.
If more people joined private health insurance providers, it would decrease the costs to government,
which in turn would allow funds to be redirected to other government priorities and initiatives.

The federal government 30% rebate


An individual who pays hospital and/or ancillary private health fund premiums to a registered health
fund can get the federal governments 30% reduction on the cost of private health insurance. It is the
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h e a lt h p r i o r i t i e s i n a u s t r a l i a c h a p t e r 3

policy holder who is eligible for this rebate; even if it is a dependent child or spouse who is covered by
the policy. However, the policy must cover people who are eligible for Medicare in order to be eligible
for the rebate. The 30% rebate was not means tested up until 2009, so it had been paid regardless of
individual or family income. During the 2009 federal budget, a decision was made to progressively
reduce the rebate for people earning over the threshold amounts, phasing it out completely for people
on high incomes.
The use of private health insurance initially decreased after the introduction of Medicare because
of large increases in premiums and general satisfaction with public insurance. This fall initially
created pressures on the public health system, particularly in terms of funding. To facilitate the
future expected increase of demands for an ageing population, the government has used several
strategies to encourage people to invest in private health insurance. These strategies have lead to
increased levels of cover.

The Medicare levy surcharge


The Medicare levy surcharge of an extra 1%on top of the 1.5% charged to all Australiansonly applies
to people who earn over the Medicare levy surcharge threshold and who choose not to have private hospital
health insurance.
The federal government has used the following strategies to encourage people to take out private health
insurance:
Incentive scheme: As of 1 July 2010 individuals earning $75 000 or over, or couples earning $150 000 or
over, will not be required to pay the extra 1% Medicare levy if they take out private health insurance. At
the same time, singles earning above $90 000 and families earning above $180 000 will be required to pay
a higher surcharge if they choose not to take out private health insurance.
Lifetime health cover scheme: From the age of 30 years, Australians are encouraged to take out private
health insurance. If they do not, then when or if they choose to take out private health insurance at a later
time in their life, for example when they get older and may be at higher risk of illness, they are required
to pay an extra 2% on top of the premium for every year after the age of 30. For example, a person who
takes out insurance at age 50 would be required to add an extra 40% (20 years 2%) onto the premium.
Therefore, a $2000 annual premium would now be charged at the penalty rate of $2800 each year, for the
remainder of the persons life.
The decision for many individuals and families is whether to save the amount paid each year on
private health insurance and hope that if something does occur medically, that it will cost less than the
amount saved. On the other side, if a major medical issue did arise and they were not covered, the out
of pocket expenses could be large and the wait for treatment quite lengthy. For many people, they see
private health insurance as a waste of money, while for others, private health insurance is taken out for
peace of mind.

complementary and alternative health care approaches


critically analyse complementary and alternative health care approaches
by exploring questions such as:
how do you know who to believe?
what do you need to help you make informed decisions?
Australians have access to a range of services that either complement or are alternative to mainstream
healthcare services. In the 20042005 National Health Survey, results indicated that in any two-week
period, 1 in 28 Australians (700000) consulted a complementary or alternative health professional: 1 in
23 females (500000) and 1 in 37 males (300000). About 1 in every 47 Australians (400000) consulted
a chiropractor, 100000 consulted a naturopath and about 200000 consulted an acupuncturist,
herbalist, hypnotherapist or osteopath.
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Age group
H e a lt h

014

1524

2544

T o ta l
4564

65+

Males

Females

Persons

professional

Chiropractor

29.6

46.4

177.8

148.0

30.7

180.2

252.4

432.6

Naturopath

55.0

46.7

*7.9

35.6

97.9

133.6

*13.0

*11.1

(b)

*3.6

*14.2

82.3

76.4

24.8

68.5

132.7

201.2

Total(c)

44.5

69.5

297.4

253.4

57.8

271.6

451.0

722.6

Other

*Estimate has a relative standard error of 25% to 50% and should be used with caution.
(a)Consultations in the 2 weeks before 200405 National Health Survey interview. Excludes consultations in/at hospitals or day clinics.
(b)Includes acupuncturist, herbalist, hypnotherapist and osteopath.
(c)Totals will not necessarily be the sum of the rows, as some persons reported more than one type of professional.

ta b l e 3 . 1

Source: ABS unpublished data

Persons reporting
consultations with
complementary and
alternative health
professionals(a),
20042005 (000)

Complementary and alternative health services have been incorporated into the general healthcare
system to a varying extent. For example, acupuncture performed by a medical practitioner attracts a
Medicare rebate, for which a total of 589796 claims were made in 20062007, attracting benefits of
$21.1 million (PHIAC 2007).

reasons for growth of complementary and alternative health products and


services
A key reason for increasing use of complementary and alternative health products and services is a
growing trend for patients to be more proactive towards their own health and to seek out different forms
of self-care. In the process, many people have turned to natural traditional medicinal products and
practices under the assumption that natural means safe. There is also the increase in cases of chronic and
debilitating diseases for which there is no scientific cure. In essence, scientific studies of several therapies
show that their use is effective, such as for HIV/AIDS and cancer patients.
The advantages of complementary and alternative medicine include its:
diversity and flexibility
availability and affordability in many parts of the world
widespread acceptance in low and middle income countries
comparatively low cost
relatively low level of technological input.
Among popular beliefs by Australians for using complementary and alternative products and services is
their:
compatibility with a holistic view of health
acceptance by people with diverse cultural backgrounds and influences
traditional beliefs
desire to use natural products rather than synthetic ones and an
acceptance of their validity by the World Health Organization.

range of products and services available


Activities
6 AND 7

64

Some of the more common complementary and alternative products used are herbal medicines. These can
be categorised as:
herbsleaves, flowers, fruit, seed, stems, bark, roots or other plant parts
herbal materialsherbs, juices, oils, resins and dry powders of herbs
herbal preparationsextraction and purification.

h e a lt h p r i o r i t i e s i n a u s t r a l i a c h a p t e r 3

Popular natural products used in Australia include fish oil/omega 3, which reduces the risk of heart
disease; glucosamine for managing arthritis; and Echinacea, which is used to increase activity of the
immune system.
Some examples of complementary and alternative services include:
Acupunctureinserting needles into the skin at points where the flow of energy is thought to be blocked.
Aromatherapythe use of oils extracted from plants to alleviate physical and psychological disorders such
as sleep disorders, stress, and anxiety.
Chiropracticbased on the theory that disease and disorders are caused by a misalignment of the bones,
especially in the spine, that obstructs nerve functions.
Homeopathya patient is given minute doses of natural substances that in larger doses would produce
symptoms of the disease itself.
Massagerubbing or kneading the muscles, either for medical or therapeutic purposes or simply as an aid
to relaxation.
Meditationthe concentration of the mind on one thing, in order to aid mental or spiritual development
and relaxation.
Naturopathyfounded on the belief that diet, mental state, exercise, breathing, and other natural factors
are central to the origin and treatment of disease.

Figure 3.9
Accupuncture and
Chinese medicine
are popular
complementary
products

how to make informed consumer choices


Though there are many benefits using different types of complementary and alternative medicines, there are
also associated risks. Despite widespread access to various treatments and therapies, people often do not have
enough information on what to know or check when using complementary and alternative medicines in
order to avoid unnecessary harm.
For example, the Chinese herb ma huang, which contains ephedrine and is used for breathing
problems such as asthma, has caused heart attacks and strokes among some people using it as a dietary
supplement. Long term use of kava kava, which is used to relieve anxiety, can cause serious liver damage.
And the use of ginkgo, which stimulates peripheral circulation, can result in bleeding during a surgical
procedure.
It is important to make informed decisions when choosing to use alternative healthcare. Before
undertaking any service or product, people should research:
the nature of the product or service
its credibility, benefits and effectiveness
qualifications and experience of practitioners
recommendations from friends, community members and recognised experts or groups such as the World
Health Organization.

Activity 8

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PDHPE in focus hsc course

Consumers need to be aware of people who set up illegal practices. The government has laws in place
to protect consumer rights. Individuals are allowed to ask for information about the purchase, complain
about false or misleading advertising and ensure that the product or service meets government safety
standards.

Activities
Activity 1 (Page 55)
Investigate the institutional and non-institutional facilities and services that exist within
your own community. Who do they cater for and are they easily accessible?

Activity 2 (Page 57)


Research how the Australian Government applies the principles of vertical equity to provide
specific healthcare services to meet the needs of culturally and linguistically diverse peoples.
Activity 3 (Page 58)
Consider what you have learnt about healthcare expenditure versus early intervention and
prevention expenditure. Determine how intervention and prevention expenditure could be
effectively used to reduce the incidence of cardiovascular diseases, cancers and injuries.

Activity 4 (Page 58)


Debate the topic: The current government health expenditure will reduce the burden of
morbidity and mortality over the next 20 years.

Activity 5 (Page 61)


Research two private health insurers and compare their benefits for a family looking to take
out top hospital cover.

Activity 6 (Page 64)


Conduct an experiment over one week to determine the benefits of using herbal medicine
or other natural products used in Australia. Break into four groups to test four different
products. Each group uses one product for a week, then analyse the possible benefits
associated with the product. Discuss the results as a class.

Activity 7 (Page 64)


Participate in an alternative form of healthcare, such as aromatherapy. Identify the pros
and cons in the approach and explain why some people may find this a useful approach to
healthcare.

Activity 8 (Page 65)


Conduct an internet search to determine the range of complementary and alternative
healthcare products and services (legal and illegal) marketed to consumers within Australia.
Critically analyse their claims and assess their credibility in achieving what they are
marketing.

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h e a lt h p r i o r i t i e s i n a u s t r a l i a c h a p t e r 3

Review
Questions

1. Describe the difference between institutional and noninstitutional facilities and services.
2. Demonstrate how levels of responsibility can be
applied to health care in Australia.
3. Explain how horizontal and vertical equity is used by
governments.
4. Examine two treatments and technologies that have
emerged to address the essential needs of access and
early detection.
5. Evaluate healthcare in Australia by investigating issues
of access and adequacy in relation to social justice
principles. Explore:
how equitable is the access and support for all
sections of the community?
how much responsibility should the community
assume for individual health problems?
6. Assess the advantages and disadvantages of Medicare
and private health insurance, such as costs, choice and
ancillary benefits.
7. Outline reasons why complementary and alternative
health care approaches are increasing in popularity in
Australia.
8. Discuss the nature of illegal practices and marketing
campaigns set up to make money from consumers.
9. Assess the level of invasiveness attached with the use
of various complementary and alternative health care
services.
10. Critically analyse two complementary and alternative
health care approaches by exploring what you need to
help you make informed decisions.

Chapter
summary

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