In the lead up to the 2019 federal election cancer funding emerged as a particular friction point, with Opposition Leader Bill Shorten challenging Prime Minister Scott Morrison to match Labor's $2.3 billion pledge to cut out-of-pocket costs for cancer patients. Mr Morrison respondedby saying all cancer treatment in public hospitals was free. But there is more to the story. Public hospitals provide free treatment to cancer patients who are formally admitted as public inpatients. However, public patients may need to pay for other cancer services. In some states and territories, public patients receiving outpatient services at public hospitals may have to partly cover treatment costs, such as for chemotherapy. And in hospital, public patients may be offered tests and drugs not yet covered by Medicare or the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, which they would have to pay for. Although patients can opt to use the public or private system, public options may not be easily accessible to patients in regional and rural Australia. Cancer patients in the public system can also face significant non-clinical costs such as travel, accommodation and hospital car parking.
Verdict: More to the story