Indigenous health spending greater in remote areas

The report, Expenditure on health for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people 2010-11: an analysis by remoteness and disease released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), provides additional detail to a report entitled Expenditure on health for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people 2010-11, released in March 2013.

'On the whole, per-person health spending rose with increasing remoteness for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. But the rises were much higher for Indigenous Australians, mainly due to higher expenditure on services for patients admitted to hospitals.'

This more recent report shows that in Remote and Very remote areas, $2.22 is spent on health per Indigenous Australian for every dollar spent per non-Indigenous Australian. 

'This figure includes expenditure on admitted patients, and through Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services, the Medicare Benefits Schedule and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme', said AIHW spokesperson Dr Adrian Webster.

'This compares with the overall figure, for the same four types of service, of $1.52 per Indigenous Australian for every $1.00 spent per non-Indigenous Australian'.

The AIHW report also examines overall differences in expenditure by disease group for admitted patients.

Expenditure on genitourinary diseases, including kidney dialysis, represented the greatest proportion of Indigenous admitted patient expenditure, and accounted for 11% ($195 million).

This was closely followed by expenditure due to mental and behavioural disorders (11%), maternal conditions (8%), unintentional injuries (8%) and cardiovascular disease (7%).

For non-Indigenous Australians the area of greatest admitted patient expenditure was cardiovascular diseases, at 12% of non-Indigenous spending. This was followed by unintentional injuries (10%), musculoskeletal and connective tissue diseases (9%), and cancer (8%).

In 2010-11, per person spending on Indigenous Australians was much higher than non-Indigenous Australians for all categories of potentially preventable hospitalisations (PPH).

PPH are conditions where hospitalisation is thought to have been avoidable, primarily if more timely and adequate care had been provided through other parts of the health system.

Overall $2.22 was spent on PPH per Indigenous Australian for every dollar spent per non-Indigenous Australian. The areas of PPH where spending was highest among Indigenous Australians was for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and diabetes complications.

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.


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