Reforming the Australian health care system: the role of government. Occasional Papers: New Series Number 1

This first paper in the series Occasional Papers: New Series, deals with Australian government involvement in health care; population health, particular challenges for the Australian health system and changing priorities.

Page last updated: March 1999

This paper begins (Section 1) with a review of why Australian governments are extensively involved in health, the ongoing challenges that involvement brings, and evolving views on how best to respond. The following three sections set the scene for a consideration of major recent reform to the system. Section 2 provides an international context, by comparing the overall performance of Australia’s health system with that of other OECD countries. Section 3 provides the domestic context, by describing the Australian health system in some detail. Section 4 provides the historical context, by identifying recurring reform themes as the system has evolved in response to powerful forces for change. Sections 5 and 6 then review some important health care reforms undertaken in the 1990s, describing major initiatives both for Medicare and for private health insurance. The focus shifts to population health in Section 7, where Australia has enjoyed some considerable successes (eg in combating the spread of AIDS). The paper concludes (Section 8) by turning to ongoing issues and the wider context of health in the Australian community.

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