This particular publication serves two main purposes. In the first place, it updates data published initially in Australian Health Expenditure 1975-76 to 1979-80: an analysis. Secondly, it complements that publication in that it extends the time series to provide researchers with access to longer term expenditure and utilisation data.

Although the time series has been extended to include the 'pre-Medibank' period, some of the information needed to provide a complete series of the more detailed tables over the whole period was not available. For this reason it has not been possible to extend those tables, which provide a split-up of expenditure by area of expenditure, earlier than 1975-76.

The main thrust of the analysis is, however, directed to expenditure in the period 1979-80 to 1981-82. This was an extremely important period in health financing in Australia. It saw the end of the public hospital cost-sharing agreements between the Commonwealth and most State governments, and a winding back of the level of Commonwealth involvement in financing many other. State health services. It also saw significant changes in the eligibility criteria for a number of health benefits. For example, in 1981 the Commonwealth introduced legislation limiting eligibility to Commonwealth Medical Benefits (see Appendix F).

In view of these major changes in the Commonwealth government's health financing policies, it is important that we are in a position to appreciate the effects such changes may have had on the level of health expenditure and resources being directed towards health care; it is equally important to know where the funds were expended and how the sources of funds may have altered in response to those policy changes. In order to do this effectively we must have access to a great deal of expenditure and utilisation data. The tables and analysis in this publication go some way towards providing this information.

Qther complex issues such as the relationships between health resources, expenditure on health and health status are not explored. This analysis does not attempt to assess the relative effectiveness of different types of expenditure, or the amount of money directed to providing health services for particular population groups, or for treating particular illnesses and conditions. Although these are important matters deserving of analysis, they fall outside the scope of this report.