Australian financial newspaper The Age has published an editorial warning that “the flu pandemics have already led to significant cost increases in healthcare”.
The article cites an analysis of the cost of healthcare for the first six months of this year from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
It says that while this could be partly attributed to the pandemic, there are “serious issues” with the way the cost is being collected and spent.
The article says that a review of the data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) shows that healthcare costs are rising more rapidly than inflation.
The analysis, commissioned by the Australian Medical Association, found that the average cost of treating patients in 2016 was $17,400.
This has risen by $8,200 per patient over the last year, from $16,600 in 2016.
The AMA has called for a “fundamental rethinking” of the way Australia pays for healthcare, and for the government to take steps to increase transparency in how its healthcare system is run.
It says the health system is failing to provide effective care and that “federal government should be held to account for its failures”.
The AMA said the analysis also showed that costs are continuing to rise at a rate of 3.7 per cent a year, which is “significantly higher than the rate of inflation”.
The report warns that “over the next three years, costs will continue to rise”.
The health system needs to get better, and the government needs to make more investments in improving quality of care, it said.
The report also said that the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) figures for the total number of people in hospital and on the verge of being discharged from hospital are “misleading”.
It said the ABS figures are based on self-reported data, and are “based on an outdated model” of hospital discharge that is not reflective of the reality in hospitals.
“We need to get a more accurate picture of how many people are actually being treated in hospitals,” AMA president Andrew Wilson said.
“There needs to be an honest discussion about how much Australians are actually paying for their healthcare.”