Medical care expenses are increasing day by day all over the word, specially in USA, UK and other developed and underdeveloped countries. According to a recent report Australians are paying five times more than Britons for medical care, inflicting many people with chronic health conditions to forgo treatment as it’s too expensive for them.
The Report stated about 50% of Australians living with depression, anxiety and alternative psychological state/Mental health conditions have skipped medication or medical care attributable. This was reported by James Cook University and the NSW Bureau of Health Information.
Asthmatic Stephanie Horan, 27, was clinically dead for 12 minutes after she stopped her medication for social reasons and suffered a near-catastrophic asthma attack as a teenager.
Now she knows she can’t stop her medication and, depending on the severity of her symptoms, spends between $45 and $80 a month on medication, which does not include her GP, specialist appointments or machine upgrades.
“It is expensive but with anyone else who has a chronic condition it’s your life,” she said. “I’d hate to know they’re risking their life because its just too expensive … to know somebody lost their life because they couldn’t breath because their medication was too expensive.”
According to the study recently revealed within the Australian Journal of Primary Health. There had more than 30 per cent of those with respiratory disease (asthma) and respiratory disorder (emphysema), 27 per cent of these with polygenic disorder (diabetes), 25 per cent with inflammatory disease (arthritis) and 20 per cent of cancer patients.
“In terms of skipping medical care we perform much worse than Canada and New Zealand, certainly the UK and Sweden,” Dr Callander said.
A Lead study researcher Emily Callander, a health economist from the Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine, said the US was the only country of 11 studied that had high ratio of people skipping healthcare due to more cost than Australia.
She and her team studied and analysed the results of the 2013 Commonwealth Fund international health survey, which interviewed a cross section of people from each country studied, including 2200 Australians.
Australian households were spending an average US$1,026 each year on out-of-pocket medical expenses, compared to $216 in the United Kingdom and US$1,844 in the United States, the researchers revealed.
“We know within Australia and internationally that people with chronic diseases are most likely to have lower incomes so we’re getting this compounding of disadvantage,” Dr Callander said.
Leanne Wells, chief executive Consumers Health Forum said the study pointed to gaps in “Australia’s supposed universal health system”.
“It also highlights the other vicious circle: that those with chronic conditions are more likely to have lower incomes and less wealth because of the exacerbating effect of their condition and their ability to participate in the labour force,” she said.
“Such findings highlight the emergence of a two-tiered health system and the need for reforms so that quality primary care for chronically ill people is available to all regardless of their income.”
Dr Stephen Carbone from beyondblue said: “We have been aware that roughly 50 per cent of those with mental health conditions do not access treatment, but believed this was largely driven by stigma.”
The possibility that cost could be a barrier to care was “a major issue that requires further investigation,” he said..
Mark Brooke, chief executive Asthma Australia said the most common inquiry they received was how to get low cost medication . He said anecdotally they were aware of parents skipping their medication in some cases to pay for their children’s.
“We need to be able to ensure that medications are more affordable for all Australians,” he said.