In April 2019, we asked Australia’s Health Panel about their health policy priorities for the upcoming Federal Election in May 2019. This was to gauge how important different areas of health policy were to help inform what areas CHF, and the various political parties, should prioritise.

The vast majority of panellists (82%, n=59) reported that healthcare policy was important for determining who they would vote for at the election. This indicates that having health policy is of key importance for those running for election.

No single area of health policy was a priority for a majority of our panellists. The three top priorities for an incoming government amongst panellists were healthcare costs (54%), access to healthcare (48%) and aged care (38%). However there were multiple other areas that sizeable minorities of panellists also considered as priorities, suggesting there are multiple areas of health policy that need significant improvement:

Top 3 Priority Health Area

Responses

Percentage

Healthcare costs

38

53.52%

Access to healthcare

34

47.89%

Aged care

27

38.03%

Oral and dental health

22

30.99%

Mental health

21

29.58%

Waiting times

16

22.54%

Health insurance

15

21.13%

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health

12

16.9%

Obesity

10

14.08%

Children's health

4

5.63%

Most panellists had either a neutral (42%, n=30) or slightly positive (41%, n=29) overall personal experience with the healthcare system. Less than 2% (n=1) reported having a ‘very positive’ overall personal experience. In addition the majority of panellists (86%) reported that the Federal Government should be spending more on public health that it currently does. Together these indicate that there is scope for improving how the healthcare system treats consumers and Australians are willing for the government to invest more money to have those improvements.

Several broader issues were also identified as important health policy areas. Two thirds (n=48) of panellists believed that the Australian healthcare system does not cater well to complex or chronic conditions. The vast majority (92%, n=65) of panellists believe that more should be spent on preventative health. In addition, 70% (n=51) of panellists believe that it is not appropriate for patients with private health insurance to be given precedence over public patients in the public healthcare system.

In summary, health policy is a clear election priority for many Australians. In particular health care costs, healthcare access and aged care are areas that people believe should be prioritised by the Australian Government, with most people wanting additional funding allocated to health policies. In addition there needs to be a larger focus on preventative case and managing complex/chronic illnesses while properly balancing public and private patients in the public healthcare system.

The Consumers Health Forum of Australia would like to thank all panellists for kindly giving their time to participate in this survey. Any questions about this survey and its findings can be directed to info@chf.org.au.

Note- as each question in the survey was optional the number of responses for each question varied across the survey. This is why the ‘n’ for each set of answers may not add up to the same total number of responses for each question.

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