Australians pride themselves on having one of the best health care systems in the world. The country's public health care system is available to all residents, with private insurance options providing increased choice and attractive outcomes for those who choose to participate. Across the country, people depend on both public and private hospitals in the event of an emergency.
Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics indicates that many hospitalisations, however, may be unnecessary. The rates of potentially avoidable hospitalisations (PAHs) have been explored in detail by doctors, hospital administrators and government officials looking to reduce medical waste.
What are PAHs?
As their name suggests, PAHs are avoidable hospitalisations, which come at a significant cost to taxpayers and the Australian government when considered on a wide-scale basis. These hospitalisations tend to occur as a result of inadequate vaccination, poor treatment of chronic disease, unrecognised symptoms of illness, an absence of lifestyle counseling (such as teaching patients how to avoid developing preventable heart disease) and a lack of preventative treatment practices.
How big of a problem are PAHs?
The Primary Health Care Research and Information Service (PHC RIS) found that the proportion of hospitalisations that were labelled as preventable was highest in Western Australia, in that state about 10 per cent of all admissions were considered PAHs. In all other states, the figure hovered at around 8 per cent. When taken on a wide scale, these avoidable admissions come at a significant cost to the country.
How to move forward
The PHC RIS recommends a variety of policies that may help to curb the number of PAHs. Some of their key pieces of advice included a great focus on diabetes information and prevention, more individually tailored programs, multidisciplinary care (such as combining lifestyle coaching and naturopathic treatments with conventional medicine), and finally, nationwide programs aimed at educating hospitals and doctors on how to implement these practices.
Many of these recommendations may sound familiar if you are a believer in private health insurance. Most Australians know that private hospitals generally offer more personalised care and individualised treatment, which is one of the tenants of the PHC RIS's recommendations. Private insurance packages also generally offer great choice in terms of coverage for unconventional treatments.
If you're interested in private health insurance, speak with a professional to help select a package that offers personalised care and a range of options suitable for your situation.