The Australian healthcare system is overloaded. This results in long delays for care or denied care when the matter is considered elective. Let’s look at the hard data on the problem before discussing possible solutions at both a personal and federal level.
The severity of the problem
An elective procedure doesn’t mean the patient doesn’t need it. It means that they can wait. About half of all patients wait more than four weeks for an elective procedure. More than ten percent wait six months. In Tasmania, about ten percent of patients wait more than a year for elective care, and New South Wales is almost as bad.
The issue is even worse for dental care. In New South Wales, nearly ten percent wait more than a year for elective dental services like extractions and root canals. In South Australia, it is a quarter. When it comes to mental health care, more than a third of patients wait more than eight hours for emergency care. These are major problems, since half of the population relies exclusively on the public healthcare system.
One area that is of concern to patients but hidden from the public is the “hidden waiting list”. This is when patients are referred to a specialist or clinic for diagnosis or treatment. They wait for an appointment, but the wait time varies wildly. Furthermore, this wait time isn’t reported in several states. In states where the data is reported, the wait times aren’t reported with consistent measures.
What the government is doing about the overloaded healthcare system
The government has several solutions. One is to incentivize the purchase of private health insurance. That leads many to seek care in private hospitals, reducing the burden on the public healthcare system. The other solution is to delay elective surgery to provide as many resources as possible to essential surgery. This results in very long waiting lists for elective surgery. What can patients do if they’re face with incredibly long wait times?
Tips to minimize your wait time for elective surgery
Get the Right Health Insurance
You can find health insurance no waiting period policies. This will allow you to get care almost immediately at a private hospital. The health insurance policy will reduce the cost you pay for care through bulk purchasing power. A side benefit of buying health insurance is that you can access private doctors and hospitals for any follow-up care or any other services you require. Furthermore, if you get the right level of hospital coverage, you become eligible for tax credits.
You can pay for private healthcare by paying for it out of pocket. This is obviously less than ideal, since it is expensive. It is an option for minor issues, and it may be the only way to pay for care abroad. The downside of paying cash is that you don’t get rid of the Medicare surcharge if it applies to you.
Go without Care
This really isn’t an option when you are dealing with a real health problem. It ends up costing you or the system far more in the long-run. One example is the dental budget that only meets a fifth of public demand. This results in people waiting unbearably long. This leads to horror stories of people pulling their own teeth. It also leads to tens of thousands of hospital admissions for preventable dental conditions like abscesses.
Contributed posts are written by third parties who have paid Woman Around Town for publication.