Healthcare in Australia to Face Grave Changes; Report Says Critics Worry ‘Tough Federal Budget’ May Lead to Take U.S. System

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By Alyssa Ashley Lucas | May 14, 2014 11:04 AM EST

Healthcare in Australia is apparently about to face grave changes as new report says Australia is getting a "tough federal budget" on Tuesday, May 13. Critics are also reported to be worrying that it may lead the country to take the U.S. system.

According to the new report from Reuters, the Australian economy April audit resulted for the government to put a tight hold on costs. The government now warns that there is a "fiscal crisis" looming ahead as the mining industry in the country appears to have slowed. However, the report added that it was the healthcare that appears to be the most serious long term "fiscal challenge."

As a result, the audit reportedly recommended a $15 fee for doctor's visits and made a proposal that takes the country towards the U.S. style healthcare system wherein Aussies will be required to purchase private health insurance. Apparently, the lower wage earners will be receiving government subsidy.

With the new proposition, Lesley Russell, an Adjunct Associate Professor at the University of Sydney's Menzies Centre for Health Policy told Reuters that Australia is "the only country heading in the opposite direction."

"Medicare works in Australia because the richest and the poorest of us have the same stake in the system. And if they change that, that really scares me. That's the end of Medicare," Rusell added.

Australia is reportedly one of the wealthy countries that makes sure to provide universal healthcare to all its citizens at any rate whether they are rich or poor under what is called Medicare.

In a smh.com.au report, it was earlier stated that under the current system of "community rating," the government doesn't allow private health insurers to charge the "older or unhealthier people" a larger amount for cover.

"At the moment, everybody is part of Medicare -- wealthy people and poorer people alike," Stephen Duckett, former head of the federal health department, told smh. "If wealthy, articulate people are in Medicare, they have a vested interest in making sure Medicare works for them as it works for everybody, and I think Medicare is politically stronger if everybody is covered by it."

According to the report, Dr Duckett is in opposition to the Commission of Audit's proposal to oblige the high-earners to buy the private health insurance in favor of Medicare but he apparently greeted the commission's recommendations that an independent entity manages the "Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme." 

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