Posted on November 8, 2011

Indigenous Australians Receive 2.5 Times More Health Funding than Non-Indigenous Australians

Sue Dunlevy, The Australian, November 2, 2011

Indigenous Australians are receiving up to two and a half times more health funding than non-indigenous Australians and they are six times more likely to be hospitalised for kidney disease and childhood preventable diseases, a new report shows.

On average, for every $1 spent per person on non-indigenous healthcare $1.39 was spent on indigenous health in 2008-09, an Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report released today shows.

But in remote and very remote areas, health spending per person was as high as $2.41 on indigenous Australians for every $1 spent on indigenous Australians.

The statistics reflect the poor health of indigenous Australians and the fact they are likely to die 11.5 years earlier than other Australians.

Kidney disease and mental and behavioural disorders top the spending list for indigenous Australians while cardiovascular disease and unintentional injuries were the most costly areas of expenditure for non-indigenous Australians.

Indigenous Australians received only around half the Medicare and pharmaceutical benefit scheme subsidies of non-indigenous Australians.

On average, PBS expenditure per person was $250 for indigenous Australians and $338 for non-indigenous Australians.

However, hospital expenditure per person was much higher for indigenous Australians and they were much more likely to attend indigenous health services.

The report shows indigenous Australians are 37 times more likely to be hospitalised for the sexually transmitted disease gonorrhoea and 2.26 times more likely to be in hospital as a result of type 2 diabetes.

Indigenous Australians are 1.76 times more likely to be hospitalised for mental and behavioural disorders and 3.5 times more likely to be in hospital for alcohol dependence.

Indigenous children were six times more likely to be hospitalised for vaccine-preventable childhood diseases, such as whooping cough, than non-indigenous children.

Private hospital expenditure was considerably less for indigenous Australians, AIHW spokesperson Nigel Harding said.