Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Australian Medical Care

I am cross as patch about this.

Three blokes have swum from the Geelong Sea Baths to the Brighton Sea Baths, across Port Phillip Bay, nearly double the distance of swimming the English channel. Later note: They did not all make it. It was a fund raiser for a lad who became a paraplegic after diving off a pier. Apparently his care comes at a cost of $300,000 per year.

Why is this so? I have experienced this weirdness of fundraising myself when a friend's nephew was injured in a car crash. Almost before he reached hospital in an ambulance, a Face Book fund raiser page was set up for him.

Now, I would really like someone to explain to me why this fundraising is necessary? In Australia, we get free medical care paid through our taxes which includes rehabilitation. Then there are various amounts of assistance available for extras over three tiers of government. It can be problematic finding out about them as there is no central co-ordination but the services are there. Somewhere in government is a department that will pay for alterations to your home to cater for your disability. If you need an electric wheelchair, you will get it. It may not be the latest and flashiest model, but it will be supplied. You will get home nursing care if it is required.

I think the rolling out of the National Disability Scheme will address these co-ordination problems with whole of care packages. 

Yes, there are extra expenses that won't be covered by government. Your mortgage should you have one won't be paid. But if you rent privately, you will get a rent subsidy. You will not be compensated for a loss of potential earnings but forced to rely on a government pension which is just adequate for basic living.

Let me use my brother as an example.

ABI Brother received a serious head injury when he rode his bicycle across a highway from a side street in front of cars. He has no memory of the event and we only speculate that it may have been a suicide attempt.

He was a close call to death, but our public health system treated him exceptionally well, followed by a year or more of rehabilitation.

He received a payout for his injury from the Transport Accident Commission, enough to seriously contribute towards buying a house in the area where he grew up. He later got a job where he still works. He has subsequently paid taxes, contributed to the community by football and cricket umpiring and looks after Mother on a daily basis. He was fortunate because his incident was classed as a traffic accident. An injury from diving off a pier may not be quite the same.

Nevertheless, my point stands. We have good public medical care in Australia. I have received it in the past and R has very recently. Of course it is not perfect and things can go wrong. Our dyke friend had a successful heart transplant under our public system. Bone Doctor who has worked in St Mary's and St Thomas Hospital in London reckons our health care is better than that of England.

So please do tell me why this quadriplegic lad needs $300,000 worth of private care per year? My hackles really rise when I hear of fundraisers for people who have been injured. Of course we feel sorry for them and have concerns about their futures, but there is absolutely no need for fundraising on such an extreme scale. There are many permutations and different circumstances of course, but there is a basic that remains, high quality medical care provided by our taxes is a right and that is pretty close to what we get.

24 comments:

  1. I suspect there is a LOT more to the story. And it may come down to choice.
    The care is there. Perhaps not where you want it, but there. It probably comes down to choice. And setting up a fundraiser makes the family/friends feel that they are doing something.
    Our system is not perfect, but it is pretty good. Though some medication costs (when the patient is NOT in hospital) are impossible for most to fund. One of my medications (over $1500 a month until it was covered by the PBS) would not have been possible. I didn't take it, but it wasn't a question of life and death either. Sorry about the long comment.

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    1. EC, you possibly correct on both counts. I am happy with long comments. There will always be a drag I think between a great new medication and it being publicly funded. R takes a medication that is not on the PBS list and it is over $30 a month, instead of what he usually pays, a few dollars. The branded one is over $60.

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    2. All of my medications are over $30 a month. It adds up.

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    3. EC, I wrongly made assumptions about your financial situation, assumeing you would get medications at the concession rate.

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  2. EVery day here there are new fundraisers, for children with cancer, someone injured, etc, because we don't have affordable health care. Even if one has insurance, the copays and premiums and out of pocket for non covered expense often bankrupt people. So the pathetic frequent fundraisers here go on and will go on, because here health care is not seen as a right but rather something you must be worthy to receive, i.e. wealthy.

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    1. As someone who has had to declare bankruptcy because of all the expenses not covered by insurance and repeatedly denied disability, I can vouch that our healthcare sucks. Hairy green donkey balls.

      And no fundraiser either; things are tight but we're making it.

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    2. I'm glad you are making it Cranky, but people like you and others should not go bankrupt over medical bills. I'm so sorry.

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    3. Strayer, that is kind of how we imagine your health system works. Clearly in your case, the fund raisers are necessary.

      Cranky, I did not know and it is quite shocking that it happens in the richest and most vibrant country in the world.

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  3. Medical care is often very complicated in many countries

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    1. Gosia, it is like public transport, no matter how good it is, we will still complain.

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  4. We are so fortunate to have no worries about medical care. The NHS isn't perfect but I know it's there when I need it.

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    1. Marie, it is good that you have positive view as a number of fellow countrymen don't. I expect it comes down to socio economic areas etc.

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  5. Quad care is very complicated more so than Para especially if brain injury due to lack of oxygen was involved. Your brother was lucky to be covered by TAC but even that is tougher on disabilities these days. Like EC, I'm stunned by what some of my medication costs and sometimes I don't feel any better than when I wasn't taking it.

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    1. Jah Teh, I am being flippant, but if you want to feel better, drink more gin. Yes, many medications improve your health but without making you feel better.

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  6. People should be very wary of asking for asking for government funding of medical care to be withdrawn. My arse of a sister-in-law asked my mum's doctor to withdraw all medical services for my beloved mother in Jan 2015 because platelet transfusions and ambulance transport were expensive. Public funding of Health Department services should be withdrawn from the frail and elderly, and given instead to the young and fit, my arse of a doctor-sister-in-law said.

    Mum's doctor picked himself up off the floor and said that yes, platelet transfusions and ambulance transport each week were expensive, but no, he does not make his policy decisions based on cost.

    Needless to say I have never allowed my sister in law in the house since Jan 2015.

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    1. Gosh Hels, I hope I never come across your sis-in-law, especially in her practice, especially when I am older.

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  7. Andrew, there are so many hidden costs not paid for by the Government. EC nailed some of it as in Medication and we don't know the full story.
    These days fundraisers for such things are quickly worked upon whilst the tragedy is fresh in peoples minds.

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    1. Margaret, I am sure there are hidden costs but the Disability Care Package should look after many of them. So many services and entitlements don't get used because people don't have the time or energy to find them. Yes, I see the point about things being fresh in people's minds.

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  8. We do have a good medical system but it is straining to keep up with the demand of a growing population.

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    1. Dinae, along with almost everything else that is failing to keep up with our population growth.

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  9. It's always interesting to read the comments from your posts when I come in late Andrew. I don't understand the individual fund raisers either but I guess if people are willing to help if they can it's a nice thing to do.

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    1. Grace, yes, the comments certainly add to what is written, and at times correct it.

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  10. There are always gaps, and sometimes these are quite substantial. When I was sick I applied for sickness benefits from Centrelink. It didn't even come close to covering my rent. Even the DSP isn't that wonderful really, unless you're lucky enough to get public housing. Of which the waiting list is indefinite, unless you're homeless, then you may have to wait a year. Trust me, I see the gaps all too often. The NDIS is only going to make things a shit load worse.

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    1. Fen, at the same time, I was well out of pocket with full private health cover for surgery and a two night hospital stay, well over $1000. From what I have recently read, go to a public hospital as a private patient and negotiate before hand. I agree about sickness benefits. Generally social security payments need to be at the level of the old age pension but I suggest tightly policed. I am disappointed in what you say about the NDSI. It will cost a lot of money and some have high hopes for it, myself included perhaps, but maybe I don't know enough.

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