Health policies need to do more for consumers

The Consumers Health Forum scorecard on how party health policies rate against specific measures in our Election Platform shows that all major parties have some way to go to fulfill the reasonable expectations consumers have for the health system.

The scorecard assessed party pledges from the consumers’ perspective on issues like cost, access and effectiveness.

The Consumers Health Forum rated the parties’ policies against a total of 31 measures in the seven headline categories of: primary and integrated care, health insurance, out of pocket costs, health system efficiencies, mental health, oral and dental health and preventive health.

Measured against our platform, the Coalition did well on health insurance reform and offered promising policies in some areas of primary health, however it failed to register any score in the categories of out of pocket costs and preventive health. Labor scored best on out of pocket costs, moderately well across our primary care bids and modestly on preventive health. The two big parties showed welcome support for mental health measures. The Greens scored strongest on health system efficiencies and weakly on out of pocket costs.

“Our ratings of the 2016 election platforms give a reasonable indication of the relative merits of the parties’ health policies in terms of meeting the interests of consumers,” the CEO of the Consumers Health Forum, Leanne Wells, said.

“The Coalition receives some recognition for its programs on primary care for chronic illness and for its review of health insurance. Both initiatives show the way to much-needed improvements but more development and funding is needed.

“Our assessment indicates that the parties have variable strengths and weaknesses across the seven headline areas we believe are most important to healthcare consumers.

“Our assessment indicates that the parties could improve the health system significantly for consumers in ways that do not require huge amounts of new funding or in ways that would generate significant reductions in poor health and avoidable costs in the future.

“For instance, none of the parties have promised a national oral health promotion strategy when a modest program could save millions of Australians from toothache and decay in the future. A single safety net to track out of pocket costs for PBS medicines and Medicare services could streamline the current haphazard arrangements.

“We keep hearing that Australia’s health system is among the best in the world. We want to retain that standing at the same time as manage sustainability. Our scorecard reinforces consumers’ expectation that quality, accessible health care needs to remain a front and centre area for reform and innovation for the incoming government.

“Our political leaders need to take more account of consumer needs and their experience of the health system if we are to design a fit-for-purpose 21st century health system for Australians” Ms Wells said.


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Jenna Gray

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