There are many ways to approach health care, but most experts agree that within developed countries, there should be minimal variation when it comes to tests and treatments. A report by the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care titled 'Exploring Healthcare Variation in Australia' recently found that there is significant variation across the country when it comes to treating patients. The key factor in all this variation? Geography.
Study finds variation in Australian care
All Australians are entitled to health care benefits, but the report revealed that people living in various areas are treated differently for similar conditions. The report looked at policies and procedures regarding routine treatments, such as hysterectomy and knee surgery.
Researchers found that peoples' experience with these procedures varied based on the Medicare Local in which they lived. Medicare Locals are geographic areas defined by the Australian Government that determine medical priorities and aid doctors and care providers in numerous ways. There are 61 Medicare Locals in Australia.
Why does it matter?
The problem with this variation is that it means some people may be missing out in important treatments. Others, meanwhile, may be over-treated, generating financial waste.
"While some variation may be due to differences in patients' needs or preferences, unwarranted variation in healthcare is recognised around the world as an important concern," Professor Villis Marshall, Commission Chair, said in a press release.
Know your options
Prof Marshall went on to say that the findings indicate patients need to protect themselves by becoming more aware of their choices in health care.
"What these findings really bring home is the importance of patients being fully informed about all of their options when making decisions about their healthcare," Prof Marshall explained.
You can familiarise yourself with your options in a number of ways. Most Australians know that private health insurance can often offer flexibility and a degree of choice that public health insurance simply cannot. Australian private health insurance gives participants access to private hospitals that often provide shorter wait times and more diverse options in terms of doctors and care providers.
If you're interested in private health insurance (or are looking to change your policy), consult with an expert to determine which plan is right for you. Know your options, and you'll be on your way to securing care upon which you can depend.