AMA Pre-Budget Submission 2020-21

1 Mar 2020

Time for Australia to significantly increase recurrent spending on health According to the most recent OECD data, Australia’s current health expenditure as a proportion of gross domestic product (GDP) is 9.3 per cent spent. The USA is 16.9 per cent, and the UK is 9.8 per cent. We do not want to pursue either of those models of care.

As a nation, we love brand Medicare. We love the idea of universal free access to public hospitals.

Australia is often compared to Canada, which spends 10.7 per cent of its GDP on health care. Many look to Europe for inspiration in health reform. Denmark spends 10.5, Switzerland spends 12.2, while both France and Germany spend 11.2 per cent.

Whenever the AMA or others raise the need for more investment in health, the response of Health Ministers around the country is the same: “Record spending in health!” Yet the record spending claim is a result of a population that is growing larger and older and getting sicker with rising rates of chronic disease.

Yet no Health Minister has ever said funding levels have been set to meet the actual cost of care delivery matched to growing population demand. The health system makes do with what it receives, rather than being funded to the level it needs.

With comparable countries spending more on health care than Australia, it’s time the funders of our own healthcare system took stock. We need the right settings and appropriate funding to match our growing and an ageing population with its complex needs.

So, with this submission, the AMA is calling on the Australian Government to do the right thing by the Australian people and dramatically lift spending on health – not just a one-off, but an increased share of GDP every year. Failure to lift funding appropriately will condemn Australians to less than the achievable health outcomes they deserve and expect.

The AMA formally calls on the Government to lift health spending from its current level of 9.3 per cent to a level in line with averages of comparable countries.

The Australian health system deserves no less. Health is the best investment that governments can make.