The rapid growth in out-of-pocket (OOP) costs has undermined the universality of Medicare and the effectiveness of private health insurance. The increase in OOP costs means that many Australians delay or go without needed healthcare and/or access less appropriate alternatives. This impacts on all of us and reduces the efficiency of our health system. Despite growing awareness of the problems associated with OOP costs and their adverse impacts, there has been little effort by governments to address them. Due to the complexity of the Australian health system and the multiple ways in which consumers encounter OOP costs when accessing healthcare, there is no silver bullet solution to this problem. What is required is a multi-faceted approach with input and buy-in from all stakeholders, including governments at all levels, providers, industry and consumers.
This paper offers a road map for tackling the problems associated with OOP costs through short- and long- term initiatives, backed by evidence and informed by on-going consultation and evaluation.