Australia’s healthcare system – Medicare has been ranked among the best in the developed world by a team of American researchers, who have ranked their own country’s system the worst. In their study of eleven different national health care models, researchers at the New York-based Commonwealth Fund ranked Australia’s mixed public-private system second best.
They concluded the United Kingdom’s, National Health Service, was the best system overall, followed by Australia, then the Netherlands, with Norway and New Zealand sharing fourth place; however when it comes to equity, Australia is ahead of the United States, France and Canada, but is ranked behind the UK, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Germany. We still have a long way to go when it comes to the healthcare and support of Indigenous Australians, and some of our most vulnerable citizens.
Health equity is about everyone in the community having the necessary knowledge, skills and resources, to achieve and maintain good health and wellbeing. Also, it is about having the right services provided in the right ways, and in the right places, to support health and well-being.Health equity is concerned with ensuring the social determinants of health do not act as barriers to individuals and communities who seek to improve their health and wellbeing. I am surprised by the number of people who are not concerned, in some cases do not even care, about the health and welfare of the Indigenous and the poor of this nation; those who are most vulnerable and least capable of fighting for their rights.
The twenty-five years following the Second World War were productive and exciting. The world was on the march. For those baby-boomers born in the decade following the end of the hostilities, the world was their oyster. There were no limits to what they could do, or achieve. The 50s and 60s were time of plenty, and few people gave any thought to the future. The Germans and the Japanese had been thoroughly routed; the Allies were rejoicing; and the good-times were here to stay. That is what everyone thought.
Then came the 80s – ‘greed is good’ – which brought a serious and marked change in the world. It was the decade of hedonism; of President Ronald Reagan and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher; of dodgy financiers in funny suits and bad toupees. It was a period of orgiastic consumption, presided over by a Claymation President, bent on crushing the poor, engorging the rich, and impoverishing future generations; a time of crooked bankers and investors shuffling and reshuffling assets; of debt and deception; and the selling of our birthright to the Japanese. It was a truly gross period. Success was measured not by achievement but by the accumulation of wealth. It divided the nation in a way it had never before been split. We became a nation of ‘them and us’. The television shows, ‘Dallas’ and ‘Dynasty’, only served to highlight the chasm and exacerbate the rampaging problem. In the desperate, greedy grab for wealth and possessions, there were no depths to which the aspiring millionaire would not sink; no financial deal was deemed too dubious. Private jets, vulgar parties, and large, indescribably ugly houses sprang up like toadstools in the winter, in some instances marring the environs in which they were dumped. Those powerless to compete were left in the financial wake, battling more than ever to meet the basic costs of everyday living. It was a struggle for survival, and the sharper your elbows the more likely you were to succeed.
It is a decade from which have never recovered, entirely. Thankfully, Prime Minister Gough Whitlam had, in 1975, introduced
Medicare, and for which we should all be
eternally grateful. It is a system which is the envy of other nations, and one which we should protect, closely. In 2016, it was reported the Turnbull government was preparing to privatise a swath of government payments, in a bid to drag the Commonwealth’s under-funded and outdated payment delivery systems in to the digital age. It was further mooted, this was the first step in a government plan to privatise the whole of Medicare. You may recall, it became part of the election campaign, and at which time it was made abundantly clear to the Liberal/ National Coalition, that such a change was not what the people of Australia expected, or wanted. Mr. Turnbull was forced to make clear there were no such plans in the pipeline. Medibank was privatised by the Abbott government in 2014 – after 38-years of being a Government Business Enterprise.
Medicare is an outstanding healthcare system, even taking into account the sometimes serious vicissitudes which blight the operation. Gough Whitlam recognised that countless Australians – many of them baby-boomers – would face difficulties with healthcare as they advanced into old age. He was a man of vision in this respect. For whatever reason, the Liberal/National Coalition has displayed an aggressive determination to drastically transform the system, and to reduce the benefits and capacity of Medicare to care for all our citizens. They have a real problem with cost of GPs making genuine home visits. The German playwright, Bertolt Brecht, said: ‘Watch closely the film clips of your leaders, walking and talking, as they hold in their cruel hands, the threads of your fate.’ He well might have been talking to Australians about Medicare. We must, each and every one of us, assiduously guard Medicare from those who would dismantle it in any way, shape or form. It may not be perfect but it is far superior to most. We do not want to end-up with a healthcare system which favours the rich, and leaves the poor to die. If you do not believe what I say, discuss it with your GP when next you visit, and the cost is bulk-billed! Roland can be heard each MONDAY morning on 3BA at 10.30. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org