Australia's spending on healthcare reached $130.3 billion in 2010/11. It represents a 6.5 per cent increase from the $122.5 billion spent in 2009.10, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) reported.
It now seems possible that antibiotics could treat some patients with appendicitis better than surgery.
On a per capita basis, that translated into $5,800 per Australian. However, despite the rise in healthcare expenditure, as a percentage of the country's gross domestic product (GDP), it slightly contracted to 9.3 per cent from 9.4 per cent the previous year.
AIHW Director David Kalisch explained the lower share of healthcare spending in the GDP to the slower growth of the national economy due to the global financial crisis.
By type of spending, the bulk or $2.2 billion of the increase was on public hospitals followed by medication which grew by $2.1 billion. The federal government accounted for 40.3 per cent of the total $38.9 billion spent on public hospitals, states contributed 49.5 per cent and the remainder came from private health funds and individuals.
Under former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, the commonwealth contributed 60 per cent to funding of public hospitals which decreased under present Prime Minister Julia Gillard who aims to bring down the share to 50 per cent by 2018.
However, some of the states are also cutting costs on healthcare spending. The Sydney Morning Herald reported on Wednesday that the Newman government reduced Queensland's funding for alcohol and drug prevention workers and nutrition promotion and healthy lifestyle programmes in a bid to cut by another $4.4 million from the state's yearly health grants scheme.
The state insisted support for preventive health programmes should receive a boost from the federal government, but federal Health Minister Tanya Pilbersek described Queensland's cost-cutting measures as a bizarre attempt to try and shift responsibility.
"As Australian government funding increases, Queensland should at least maintain state funding. It is not fair to the people of Queensland that the Queensland government is using increased commonwealth funding as a weak excuse to cut state health funding," Ms Pilbersek said in a statement.
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