The Wizard Will See You Now: Healthcare in the land of Oz

Posted: June 5, 2009 in Uncategorized

Of the things Australia has really done right, alongside alcoholism and head trauma as a sport, their healthcare system is also really quite impressive. Striking a fine balance between the hopelessly state-controlled bureaucracy of the UK, where average wait time to be treated for cutting your leg off is about 8-10 months, and the pinnacle of organized crime in the US known as HMOs, Australian healthcare manages to, of all things, provide decent free care to all its citizens while offering a range of privatized options to those who can afford it. That’s right, a working healthcare system. I actually went to the doctor today, and was told my visit would be free because I’d already paid for my last two visits, and it didn’t seem necessary to charge me again.

And somehow, the universe did not implode from sheer improbability.

This system seems possible in large part due to two factors: 1) This model pretty closely mirrors the current climate of government and social policy, and 2) there just aren’t that many people here to become ill.

While based on a historically socialist system, the climate of Australia has been increasingly leaning towards capitalist privatization, a significant example of which being the telco systems. Once strictly government-owned under the blanket provider Telstra, telco has been released into the wild, giving rise to a selection of corporate providers who will happily compete for the ability to provide you service in 2-3 working days sometime between the hours of 8AM and 3PM, maybe. This shifting climate has consumers demanding more choice, particularly those with the means to afford it, and the balance of public and private care offers both ends of the income spectrum the offerings they want. Add to this the history of state-controlled resources also means residents are well-used to paying heavy federal taxes, in the realm of 30-40% per individual, which is what allows systems such as the public healthcare system to exist.

Meantime, the national population is currently hovering around the 20 million mark, over a third of which lives in Sydney and Melbourne alone. This means a high national population density with a low overall rural population, allowing a greater focus of funds on facilities that will be used by a majority of the population. Of course, this conversely means those not in major cities often have to rely on medical facilities that require a landing strip. Add to this that most of the more poisonous native creatures will kill you in minutes, thus eliminating the need for medical care, and your overhead really drops dramatically.

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Comments
  1. tokori says:

    woah, the UK is 8 month wait?!

    • Reuben says:

      I may have been exaggerating slightly… I’m pretty sure you’d bleed out by then.
      But, I’ve read it’s not uncommon for people the UK to wait over a year to START cancer treatment.

  2. Anonymous says:

    woah, the UK is 8 month wait?!

    • Anonymous says:

      I may have been exaggerating slightly… I’m pretty sure you’d bleed out by then.

      But, I’ve read it’s not uncommon for people the UK to wait over a year to START cancer treatment.

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