Different reports on health expenditure

In addition to the ANHA published by the AIHW, there are a range of other reports produced by other entities which include estimates of health expenditure. These include expenditure estimates:

  • of government outlays on health, published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) as part of Government Financial Statistics and Australia’s National Accounts,
  • related to hospitals published by the National Health Funding Body (NHFB) under National Health Reform Arrangements (and also published by the Australian Government Department of Health),
  • published by state and territory governments in the annual reports of health agencies,
  • of hospital costs published by the Independent Hospital Pricing Authority (IHPA), and
  • produced by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Over the past several years the AIHW has been working with the Australian Government Department of Health, state and territory governments, the ABS, the NHFB, and other data suppliers to work towards a better understanding of the various spending allocation methods and the consistency and alignment between them. This work has involved consultation through the national health expenditure data committees and, in 2019, the AIHW contracted Mr Peter Harper, a former Deputy Australian Statistician, to undertake a consultation and review of the various health expenditure reports.

One message that the AIHW has received from stakeholder consultation is that, although the majority of users of the health expenditure estimates understand that there are valid reasons for differences, a ‘guide to health expenditure statistics’ would be of value. In light of this feedback, the AIHW added a new section to the Health expenditure Australia 2018–19 report (published in 2020) to examine issues of consistency and alignment between different health expenditure estimates.

Notwithstanding that there are generally good reasons for differences in health expenditure statistics, there are benefits in working towards harmonisation if possible. This is an ongoing work program and the purpose of this report is to consolidate and expand on the work to date.

This chapter and Australian National Health Account: concepts, methodology and data sources are complementary to Health expenditure Australia 2019–20 and future reports of the same series.