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In Remote and very remote areas of Australia, health spending on selected health services per person is around $2.41 for Indigenous Australians for every $1.00 spent on non-Indigenous Australians, according to a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

This is considerably higher than the $1.39 to $1.00 Indigenous to non-Indigenous health expenditure per-person ratio for health services in Australia.

The report, Expenditure on health for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people 2008-09: an analysis by remoteness and disease, looks at selected categories of health spending—patients admitted to public and private hospitals, Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs), the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).

‘The higher spending per person on Indigenous Australians is not surprising given their overall poorer health’, said AIHW spokesperson Nigel Harding.

‘Special circumstances also apply in remote areas that drive those spending differences higher, such as the overall higher costs of delivering any services at all in remote areas.’

‘The main drivers of the extra expenditure on Indigenous Australians in remote areas are the two major service delivery points used by Indigenous Australians in those areas — Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations, and public hospitals.’

PBS expenditure in Remote and very remote areas was also slightly higher for Indigenous Australians.

‘For the remaining categories of expenditure in remote areas—MBS and private hospitals— expenditure per person for Indigenous Australians was considerably less than for non-Indigenous Australians’, Mr Harding said.

In terms of highest disease expenditure areas per admitted hospital patient, genitourinary diseases (which includes kidney disease) and mental and behavioural disorders topped the list for Indigenous Australians, while cardiovascular diseases and unintentional injuries were the most costly areas of expenditure for non-Indigenous Australians.

The AIHW is a major national agency set up by the Australian Government to provide reliable, regular and relevant information and statistics on Australia's health and welfare.

Canberra, 2 November 2011

Further information: Mr Nigel Harding, AIHW, tel. (02) 6244 1025, mob. 0409 307 671

For media copies of the report: Publications Officer 02 6244 1032

Full report: Expenditure on health for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people 2008-09: an analysis by remoteness and disease