When you last visited a health care professional, what did you think of the waiting time? A new piece of research from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) found that many Australians considered the time they spent before seeing a doctor, nurse or GP too long.
While many public facilities struggle with long hospital waiting lists, Australians have turned in numbers towards private health insurance as a way to take greater control of their health care benefits. Having a choice of where you get treatment and who administers it are two of the advantages that have made half of all Australians become policyholders.
Waiting too long
Choosing private health insurance is also designed to reduce the burden on public sector health care, which statistics suggest is still finding patient numbers a problem.
According to the ABS's 2013-14 Patient Experience Survey in Australia: States and Territories (released last month), around a quarter of Australians believed the wait for treatment was too substantial. However, this varied state by state, as Louise Gates from the ABS explained.
"In 2013-14, over one in four people (27 per cent) in the Northern Territory who saw a GP, felt they waited longer than acceptable to get an appointment," she said.
"This is compared to just 19 per cent of people in Queensland, which has the lowest proportion in the country."
When looking at people's ability to see a medical specialist, those in Outback Australia also complained about the wait in the greatest numbers. A third of all NT respondents to the ABS's survey said their waiting time for such a professional was longer than they felt was acceptable, while patients in South Australia ranked the least likely to consider this an issue (19 per cent).
But many didn't go at all
However, a more concerning insight from the report is the number of people who needed medical help but chose not to go to a professional for one reason or another – one of which included the cost.
"Tasmania had the highest proportion of people who needed to see a health professional but did not go in the previous 12 months. This included needing to go to hospital (8 per cent), see a medical specialist (10 per cent) or see a dental professional (23 per cent)," the ABS report read.
Western Australians had the lowest proportion who chose against a hospital visit (4 per cent), while South Australia had the lowest in terms of seeing a medical specialist (6 per cent) and the ACT for dental care (13 per cent).
If you are restricted in your access to health care benefits because of the price of insurance, there are many ways to find a suitable and affordable policy. HICA offers free advice and support in finding the right policy for individuals and families, as well as organisations looking for a business health plan.
Contact us today on 1300 44 22 01.