Medical facilities and care systems in Australia, as well as their relationship to healthcare delivery, have a large role to play in ensuring patients have access to the best possible care, according to the Australian Medical Association.
“Our view is that all patients should have access in their own way to the services that they need, as part of a system of universal access,” AMA president Ian Macfarlane said.
“What we’re saying is we need to be able to provide the same access for everyone.”
The AMA has proposed a range of options to improve access to services for all Australians, including extending access to certain drugs to the older age of 55.
A key point of contention is the current age of eligibility.
Currently, patients can only be treated if they are aged 60 or older.
This is a major factor in the high number of people in need of hospital care, particularly in rural and remote areas, where the age of majority is often below the legal limit.
But there are other factors, too, including the number of emergency departments and the number and complexity of acute care facilities.
“We have a problem where we don’t have a universal system for accessing healthcare services,” AMA chief executive officer David Heppell said.
The AMA believes a “national health insurance system” should be developed to ensure the health of all Australians.
This could be a new model where Medicare would pay for care across the country, but there would be no national insurance company or government.
In a statement, the AMA said: “We believe there is a need for a national health insurance and universal access system.
This would include a new national health plan for the country.”
The proposal would require the government to provide funding for health services for people over 55, which it would then provide to the Commonwealth.
But it also proposes to introduce “a national health fund” to pay for the provision of primary health services, which could be funded by income tax.
This fund could also be used to fund universal healthcare.
It would also provide for universal access to prescription drugs.
The AMA wants the government’s proposed health and social security reforms to be introduced as a bill in Parliament.
These include: allowing for universal prescription drug access, including for older people.
A Medicare card would be required for every Australian aged 55 and over, and would be available for free at pharmacies.
A “universal basic income” would be paid to every Australian for every $1,000 of income over $15,000.
People over 55 would be able access free community and health services to ensure they are protected from harm.
All people aged 65 and over would be entitled to access a range a specialist, such as GP, psychologist, social worker or nurse practitioner, with free care for any medical condition.
Medical facilities and health care systems would be allowed to vary in their ability to deliver services to different age groups.
There would be a national insurance plan for health care providers, such that they would be responsible for all patients, regardless of age.
“This would include universal access, and the universal health plan,” Mr Heppel said.
However, the proposed changes could come with some caveats, including a cap on the number that would be eligible to receive treatment and the age at which the system would be extended.
One of the key questions that must be answered, he said, was whether there is any “adequate and cost-effective” way to ensure access to specialist services for older Australians, particularly those with complex health needs.
In other areas, the recommendations include a review of existing medical conditions, such for chronic pain.
“The most important thing to be considered is how we can make sure the current system is going to meet the needs of the population that are most at risk, including those who are older,” Mr Macfarlows said.